Guyana president: Trinidad and Tobago trade barriers will be discussed at agri-investment expo

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley speaks with Guyana President Dr Irfaan Ali at the Caricom Agri Investment Forum and Expo in Guyana on Thursday. – Photo courtesy Office of the Prime Minister

GUYANESE President Irfaan Ali highlighted trade barriers as one of the topics for discussion at the Guyana Agri-Investment Forum and Expo, a three-day event that began on Thursday in Guyana.

The statement came on the heels of concerns being raised by the Georgetown Chamber of Industry and Commerce warning the Guyanese government against signing a memorandum of understanding between TT and Guyana amid barriers to trade imposed on Guyana by TT.

Ali said every aspect of food production, security and trade was up for discussion in his opening remarks at the expo.

“From production to trade relations issues, to markets and barriers, every single issue is on the table,” Ali said. “We recognise that if we cannot address these issues in a collective, multi-faceted manner, then we will not be able to bring the long-term solutions that we so critically require.”

The TT Prime Minister visited Guyana ahead of the expo where discussions were held on trade and trade relations among other things.

Responding to the issues being raised by the Georgetown Chamber, the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce, in a release, called for both countries to work together to achieve the mutual goal of increased and streamlined regional trade.

The TT Chamber said Dr Rowley would have been aware of the concerns over the trade barriers when he visited Guyana.

“It is hoped that the concerns would have been addressed in the discussions with the President of Guyana and that the proposed MOU would have been designed to bring some form of resolution to the issues,” the TT Chamber said in a release.

“We do believe that working together for the common goal of improving and increasing regional trade will improve economic benefits to all territories in the region.”

Vice President Bharat Jagdeo was quoted in a Guyanese newspaper as saying the MOU was a way forward to remove the barriers. Jagdeo said Guyana would focus on removing the barriers to trade between the countries in its discussions between TT and Guyana.

In his opening remarks at the forum and expo, Rowley stressed the importance of strengthening trade and connection with Caricom countries, with the ultimate goal of becoming a single-market economy.

On Wednesday, the Georgetown Chamber warned against an MOU between the two countries, saying Guyanese businesses are hindered by non-tariff barriers – a measure that imposes limitations on how a product maybe manufactured, handled or advertised, and quotas of products that may be sold in a market.

Among the barriers is a 1930s law limiting the transport of honey within one mile of TT.

In February 2015, TT customs officers seized a quantity of honey from global freight and logistics company Laparkan and fined the company US$3,000 for facilitating the shipment.