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harmac
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Quote harmac Replybullet Topic: Rhum
    Posted: 27 Nov 2006 at 9:30am
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Rum forms part of the historical-cultural heritage of the Greater Caribbean. It is also a significant economic item in that region, which is understood to be the Island Caribbean and the Continental Caribbean as a whole.

Rum became an important product of the Antilles (West Indies) following the introduction of sugar cane in 1493 by Christopher Columbus.

Rum is mentioned for the very first time in documents originating in Barbados in 1650, in which it is referred to as “kill-devil” or “rumbullion” (a word coming from Devonshire, England, which means ‘a great tumult’). In 1667, it was simply called rum, which gave rise to the Spanish word ron and the French word rhum.

The Island Caribbean is closely linked to the origins of rum. Suffice it to say that rum has been exported to the world from the Caribbean since the 17th and 18th centuries, from the Antilles to Europe and the English colonies. Furthermore, among other uses, it served as an item of exchange in the trade in slaves, gold and ivory in Africa and in the skin trade with the North American Indians.

There is also a series of rum industries in the Continental Caribbean, but each one with its own historical-cultural particularities, which differ from those of the Island Caribbean, especially in the manufacturing process. Nevertheless, they both recognise rum as a by-product of sugar cane.

As a result of this historical-cultural and economic reality, rum is of strategic importance for the Greater Caribbean. The entity representing rum in the Island Caribbean is the West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers Association (WIRSPA), which is headquartered in Barbados.

WIRSPA’s greatest asset has been its organisation, which has endowed it with a vast capacity to develop rum exports, an activity in which the Caribbean has been involved for 300 years. This experience has allowed it to develop a series of mechanisms and activities geared toward not only maintaining traditional markets and conquering new ones, but also enhancing and modernising the entire rum industry in the Island Caribbean.

The industry’s development has not been the same in the Continental Caribbean where rum exports have only recently begun, with great success and large potential.

The first meeting among the rum producers of the Island Caribbean and the Continental Caribbean took place in 2002, within the framework of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), and stemmed from an initiative by Patrick Mayers, in his capacity as Chairman of WIRSPA, in which he proposed the ACS as an ideal forum for seeking an agreement on  a common definition of rum, among the producers of both regions, to strengthen the negotiating position of the rum industry of the Greater Caribbean, in the framework of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA), which, as it is well known, has experienced some paralysis in its development.

Three meetings were convened in the framework of the ACS, with progress made in many aspects such as the joint drafting of a matrix document of definitions of alcoholic beverages derived from sugar cane or its by-products (in accordance with their respective national legislations) as a reference document;  and closer relations among the rum producers of the Greater Caribbean. Unfortunately, agreement could not be reached then regarding the common definition of rum, which, coupled with the stalled FTAA negotiations and put a damper on the dialogue that had begun.

The ACS Secretariat, as mandated by the Trade Committee, has engaged in consultations with various rum companies and associations to promote the resumption of the Rum Dialogue meetings. During the course of these consultations, great enthusiasm has been observed among the rum entrepreneurs and associations of the industry to recommence the Dialogue and to also explore probable and possible areas of co-operation, including coordination mechanisms to benefit the rum industry in the Greater Caribbean.

The resumption of the Rum Dialogue is carded for next year, which opens up a new area of co-operation and rapprochement that may strengthen, utilise and develop the collective capabilities of the Rum Industries of the Greater Caribbean.

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