Netherlands Antilles - Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards
With its duty-free status and limited import regulation, Sint Maarten has traditionally been a wide open market for U.S. food and agricultural products. However, with its newly acquired status as an autonomous country, Sint Maarten is beginning to develop its own food safety, and plant and animal health regulatory systems. Of course, development and implementation of these regulatory systems will take time. Thus, for the time being no significant changes to Sint Maarten’s import-friendly handling of incoming U.S. products is expected.
Following the October 2010 dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles, Sint Maarten became an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. As such, Sint Maarten is transitioning from being part of a dependent Dutch collectivity to a mostly self-governing country (the Netherlands still retain responsibility for foreign affairs and defense). In terms of regulating imports of food and agricultural products, the first stage of the transition involved adopting existing Netherlands Antilles legislation as Sint Maarten legislation, which in essence maintained the status quo. The main legislation governing food and agricultural products is the Commodities Act (formerly the Netherlands Antilles Food Law 334 of 1997). As this law is quite general, Sint Maarten authorities are developing more modern and detailed food safety laws as well as plant protection laws. Development of animal health legislation will be further down the line. For the time being, no significant changes to Sint Maarten’s import-friendly handling of incoming U.S. products are expected.
It should be noted that Sint Maarten shares its island territory with the French overseas collectivity of Saint Martin. Interestingly, there is no Customs or Immigration control between the two, so movement of people and goods between the two sides is essentially unrestricted. Most, if not all U.S. products enter the island through the Dutch side of Sint Maarten. While some U.S. food products are available on the French side, U.S. foods are mostly distributed and consumed on the Dutch side of the island.