The Guyana Government says in collaboration with the private sector, it is making strides towards removing barriers that affect trade within the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Single Market Economy (CSME).
The CSME allows for the free movement of goods, services, labour, services, persons, capital and technology across the 15-member regional integration movement.
Last December, President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali expressed concern with the impediments to free trade within the region and since then a committee has been formed to help address the issue.
Foreign Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Robert Persaud said during the meetings of the committee, barriers are pinpointed product by product and country by country, to suggest remedies and approaches taken at the bilateral and multilateral level.
“That work has been making some progress in the sense that we were able to engage a number of countries bilaterally and we will continue to do that. Take for instance we have had responses from Barbados already, we continue to engage Trinidad. There is some sloth on the part of Trinidad and Tobago in terms of being much more responsive to concerns and efforts to have those addressed, but we have seen some significant interest in having these issues addressed by other states and we hope that Trinidad and Tobago would itself address and correct that very soon, all in the spirit of regional integration,” he said.
Persaud said some of the areas being looked at include the exportation of poultry with a focus on Trinidad and Tobago. He explained that there has been a ban on poultry from Guyana due to a virus detected in ducks from Suriname, which Georgetown is working to have removed. Additionally, the committee is looking at enhancing sanitary protocols for export and tapping into the pharmaceutical market.
“We have narrowed it down to a particular product based on our exporters’ interest and having those initially addressed, but then also move on to the larger issues whereby in the future, we can start planning on trade in other goods and services,” he said.
In addition, the foreign secretary said Caricom leaders have committed to addressing barriers affecting trade in the region with a focus on agriculture. Those discussions were held during their Intersessional Summit in February.
“We do hope that based on that decision and that commitment by the level of heads, we will see some impetus by individual member states [and] the Region as a whole in having those addressed,” Persaud said.
However, he said while the committee is primarily focused on Caricom, it is also examining issues affecting trade worldwide. This includes countries from South America, Asia and Europe.
“We have sought to widen some of those issues because at the end of the day, if we are going to be enhancing our production be it goods, services, both in terms of primary as well as secondary commodities; we also have to ensure that we are prepared in terms of opening up the markets and examining and very early attending to the issues that could become inhibiting factors to trade or as we want to say barriers,” Persaud said.
The foreign secretary said Guyana’s production capacity is expected to grow especially when the issue of cheaper and reliable energy is addressed.
He said the influx of local and foreign investors expanding is also a major factor and the role of the ministry is to clear the pathway to facilitate greater trade and make use of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements Guyana has signed over the years.