Private Sector urged to legally challenge unfair trade practices
By Bibi Khatoon
Despite mechanisms put in place by CARICOM through the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) and the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) among others, for the free movement of goods and services in the region, the private sector continues to face many challenges.
“Guyana, accessing some regional markets has had its fair share of challenges over the years,” President of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), Shyam Nokta on Thursday said.
He was at the time addressing a Business Luncheon held by the GMSA at the Pegasus Hotel. Present at the event were also members of the Government and Opposition.
Complaints about trade include the inability to sell goods in another member state, unfair trading practices or issues related to regional exportation such as import licenses restrictions.
In this regard, Guest Speaker and President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Justice Adrian Saunders urged more business persons to take up their grievances at the level of the court.
“Manufacturers and business people who engage in extra-regional trade should not simply grumble complain among themselves when they are faced with these unlawful and unfair treatments,” Justice Saunders said.
During his address which focused on ‘The Future Role of the CCJ in the Private Sector’, the recently appointed head of the Court noted that it has always been a challenge to get Lawyers and private entities to pursue proceedings which seek to enforce the rights which are already enshrined in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
“More people should be encouraged to use the services of the Court when there is a problem in exporting stuff or in the way in which some states treat your businesses if you seek to operate within their shores,” the CCJ President told a packed room of business persons and legal minds.
He explained that in the preamble to that treaty, it is stated that the member States of CARICOM are convinced that the CCJ would play a determinative role in the further development of Caribbean Jurisprudence.
Justice Saunders added that in constructing an independent and just society “it is in the interest of the people that the law be used as an instrument” for expanding democracy and human rights, promoting better governance, stimulating social and economic development, creating optimum conditions for the private sector to flourish and for securing the welfare of the citizenry.
The CCJ President emphasized that the rights conferred by the Treaty are designed to enable greater intra-regional trade and international trade all geared towards creating a stronger Caribbean economy.
He alluded to the famous Jamaican Shanique Myrie case – a woman who claimed damages against the state of Barbados that she treated was unfairly when she arrived at the Grantley Adams Airport in March 2011. The court ordered the State of Barbados to pay the Claimant the amount of Bds$2240.00 for pecuniary damages and the sum of Bds$75,000.00 for non-pecuniary damages.
He was also quick to point out that the CCJ is not in a place to be influenced politically since judges are selected by an independent Commission and the funds to manage the court are not from any particular government, but from the yield accruing from a US$100million trust fund.