The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is exploring how local content provisions, be it laws or policies, can be supported within the region in keeping with the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
This is according to Director of External Trade at CARICOM’s Secretariat’s Directorate of the Caribbean Single Market and Trade, Dr. Chantal Ononaiwu, who spoke at a business seminar alongside visiting Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Judge Winston Anderson on Saturday.
“It is clear that there are mechanisms like this that countries feel they should have at their disposal and so the issue really is how do you develop and apply measures like these within the context of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas,” Dr. Ononaiwu said on Saturday.
The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas is CARICOM’s central treaty.
It led to the creation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) which is an ambitious initiative that is expected to facilitate economic integration and the movement of goods, services and capital throughout the region without tariffs or other restrictions.
Last year, some concerns were raised that Guyana’s new Local Content law could potentially violate free trade provisions of the revised treaty. Several Caribbean Heads of Government publicly supported the law, however. And Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali insisted that there is no threat to the law.
At a press conference in March 2022, however, the Guyanese Head of State highlighted that the Heads of Government committed to discussing acceptable local content provisions particularly for new industries.
Dr. Ononaiwu confirmed these efforts, noting that local content provisions are being “systemically” addressed.
“The issue of local content is such an important one in the community that Heads of Government have actually mandated a working group on local content to make recommendations regarding, amongst other things, the development and application of local content legislation in the context of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas,” she said.
According to her, such initiatives must be situated within the context of the obligation member states assumed by virtue of signing onto the treaty. She also said the “flexibilities” that exist therein should be considered too.
At that business seminar, local private sector players were keen on expressing their support for Guyana’s Local Content law.
Ramesh Dookhoo of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) noted that the local private sector believes in the law because it is helping to fuel their growth.
Guyana’s new law strikes a delicate balance between foreign companies’ operations and investing in and using local goods and services. And it was prompted by the new oil and gas industry.
Efforts are being made to review progress made under this law so far and what efforts are needed to remedy loopholes that may exist.