UK-CARIFORUM stakeholder meeting to better inform trade -Foreign Secretary

Foreign Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Robert Persaud says the National Stakeholder Meeting on the United Kingdom-CARIFORUM Trade Partnership Programme has provided crucial information that will allow the private sector to access the UK and EU markets.

During the virtual meeting held on Wednesday, Mr. Persaud said he anticipates that the private sector would use the information from the engagement to better identify obstacles to trade at the product/services, sector and partner country-levels.

Foreign Secretary, Mr. Robert Persaud

He recalled that in March 2019, Guyana signed the CARIFORUM-United Kingdom (UK) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to provisionally apply the Agreement.

The Foreign Secretary pointed out that the EPA is a roll-over agreement from the CARIFORUM-European Union (EU) EPA, as it replicates all relevant sections of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA with necessary technical and administrative changes made to operationalise the agreement in a CARIFORUM-UK context.

He explained that while the UK formally exited the EU in January 2020, there was an 11-month transition that ended in December 2020. During the transition period, Mr. Persaud noted that trade between CARIFORUM States and the UK was governed by the CARIFORUM-EU EPA.

Given that the CARIFORUM-UK EPA came into force from January 2021 to allow for continued trade, Mr. Persaud indicated that a Ministerial Order amending the Customs Act was issued on December 30, 2020.

“The CARIFORUM-UK EPA ensures continuity in the preferential trading and investment relations between CARIFORUM States and the UK, as previously provided for under the CARIFORUM-EU EPA.

This allows member states to continue benefitting from duty free/quota free market access in addition to all of benefits provided for under the CARIFORUM-EU EPA,” he said.

The Foreign Secretary recognised that there are several constraints to fully utilising the EPAs. He therefore urged Guyana’s stakeholders to be fully engaged in the trade programme and activities.

Representatives from Government Ministries, Agencies and persons from the private sector also attended the forum.

The Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM), is a subgroup of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States. The body, which was established in 1992, serves as a base for economic dialogue with the European Union. Its membership comprises the 15 Caribbean Community states, along with the Dominican Republic.