The Caribbean Development Bank (CBD) on Wednesday criticized the lack of implementation of CARICOM’s trade facilitation agenda at an opening ceremony of regional dialogue on trade, being held at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown.
In his remarks at the opening of the forum titled: The Dialogue on CARICOM Strategy for implementation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in the region, Director of CDB’s Projects Department, Daniel Best pointed out that seventeen years after the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas was signed, competitiveness in the region continues to be stymied by the “flat performance” of intra-regional trade. This he said goes beyond the typical border issues.
“Behind the border issues, there’s encumbrance of the derogatory policy environment that impact market access,” Best said as he addressed participants at the opening ceremony of the two-day meeting.
He said access to testing and accreditation services and the ability of traders to meet mandatory standards are some of the challenges.
These issues, he said, also affects countries’ ranking on the international business index and access to international financing.
His views were supported by Assistant Secretary General of Trade and Economic Integration at the CARICOM Secretariat, Joseph Cox who noted that commodity prices are also affected.
“Red tape inefficiencies and lack of transparent border procedures can add as much as 15% to the price of goods and services,” Cox said.
Also addressing the gathering was Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge who pointed out that Guyana has been putting systems in place to make trading easier.
Minister Greenidge made reference to the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) which is being implemented by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA). The system requires electronic data to facilitate faster processing and clearance of goods.
According to the Foreign Minister, the processing of imports and exports are major complaints received from the private sector.
The Foreign Affairs Minister, however, called for more active engagement between regional counterparts to address new and ongoing trade facilitation issues.
Participants of the meeting include the Islamic Development Bank, representatives of various CARICOM states, the international Experts resources, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and others.
During the two day meeting, regional counterparts will engage in sharing experiences and best practices for trade facilitation and cross-border reform.
The main expected outcome from the dialogue is the development of a roadmap which should prioritize initiatives for implementation at the national and regional levels.
Guyana ratified the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement on 30 November 2015 and established a National Committee on Trade Facilitation on 9 April 2015 to oversee its implementation.