Guyana eyes removal of several regional trade barriers by year end
Trade barriers, particularly non-tariff barriers, continue to hinder increased regional trade but with a renewed impetus on regional food production, Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali is hopeful that many of those barriers can be removed before the end of this year.
President Ali, while speaking to the News Room at the sidelines of an ongoing meeting of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Suriname, related that technical groups are working to resolve these issues.
Non-tariff barriers include quotas, embargoes, sanctions and levies that affect some exports to CARICOM markets.
“We are hoping that before we go into the final quarter of this year, a lot of those barriers will be behind our backs and we can move towards the free movement of goods,” the Guyanese Head of State said.
To resolve these trade barriers with Guyana, technical working groups have been established in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.
For T&T, in particular, local businesses have complained about the existence of phytosanitary rules which, essentially, have been instituted to protect the Trinidadian agricultural sector from the potential introduction of diseases, pests, toxins or other contaminants.
President Ali ascertained substantial progress has been made thus far.
And he highlighted that further progress is expected when Trinidad’s an agri-investment forum, similar to the one hosted recently in Guyana, sometime in August.
The focus on easier trade comes as the region continues to grapple with a massive food import bill and rising costs for food and fuel amid supply challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine/ Russia crisis.
In response to these woes, Guyana- which has the lead responsibility for agriculture in the regional cabinet- is pursuing an aggressive food security agenda. Through this, CARICOM countries are expected to significantly increase the amount of food produced within the region.
In recent to questions from the News Room at a press conference on Saturday, CARICOM Secretary- General Dr. Carla Barnett explained that removing these trade barriers requires political will and engagements with technical stakeholders such as port health officers, customs officials and veterinarians.
She, however, posited that at the end of the ongoing meeting in Suriname, regional leaders will agree to resolve many of the barriers that still exist.