KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace is taking exception to some elements of the agreement the Dr. Ralph Gonsalves government signed with the London-based Armajaro Trading Ltd., one of the world’s leading suppliers of cocoa and coffee.
New Democratic Party (NDP) founder and former prime minister, Sir James Mitchell last year proposed cocoa for agricultural diversification and championed the idea during the campaign for last December’s general election.
Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party (ULP), which initially made light of the idea, was approached by Sir James this year and has since signed an agreement with the cocoa company.
Eustace said this week that he would detail his objections when the agreement comes before Parliament to be made into law.
He, however, said that he does not support the clause that says that the 50-year agreement will be reviewed after 20 years.
“I am not agreeing to anything where you have a review after 20 years. … We have had 55 years of experience in the banana industry,” Eustace said.
The agreement was signed on Aug. 11, and, therefore would not come up for review until 2031.
“I not into that. The world is moving at a rate today [where] prices are being affected on almost a daily basis,” he said.
“You have a section on the agreement that deals with prices, I would want to review that very often; not 20 years from now,” he said.
“I am not accepting anything like that. I accept that cocoa is another commodity we can go into but we go into cocoa on certain conditions. On conditions that allow our people themselves to benefit, not just the investor,” he said.
The agreement grants Amajoaro exclusivity to buy cocoa beans in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and to perform all sales and marketing of the country’s cocoa, except for persons selling the bean for local consumption.