The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) is calling for a review of Guyana’s relationship with CARICOM.
The Chamber’s comment is based on the disadvantages Guyana has had to deal with over the years when it comes to trade within the region.
Senior Vice President of the business advocacy body, Timothy Tucker explained that over the years, Guyana has received the bitter end of the stick as it relates to trading with other CARICOM countries as he named Trinidad, Barbados and Jamaica.
“It’s always one-sided when it comes to Guyana and we stop to say ‘is CARICOM really working? Is it necessary still? Is it still doing what it is mandated to – bringing the Caribbean countries and having a free and fair trade,” Tucker said at a press conference on Wednesday.
He believes these issues need to be addressed as the country begins oil production especially with the influx of Trinidadians into the local business sector.
According to Tucker, Trinidad –a country which has had years of experience in the petroleum sector –has applied to the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) to waive the Common External Tariffs (CET) on all safety equipment entering the country.
Guyana will be using this call to have the same done for Guyanese businesses.
“When that is removed for Trinidad, then our local suppliers, because we don’t have any local legislation or local content policy that says that you have to buy stuff locally, they will go to Trinidad…anybody who deals with safety equipment will buy from Trinidad.”
The GCCI is peeved by inroads made by Trinidad and Tobago to take advantage of the local market with the onset of oil and gas.
Its President, Nicholas Boyer alluded to an oil and gas forum held here without the input from local businesses and further, an upcoming ‘Doing Business in Guyana’ forum which the Trinidadians are set to host here without input from the Chamber.
Boyer believes more should be done for local content.
“For us to have a national resource be exploited and not have the regulatory architecture in place, especially not have a local content policy, it’s really a failure on our part,” he said.
The Department of Energy has drafted a local content policy which it had said will be presented to local stakeholders before finalized.
The GCCI will be hosting a gala and award dinner on November 28, titled “Ready for the future” which will be addressed former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson-Miller. It is expected that at this forum, more on relations within the region will be addressed.