Just a month after Guyana’s President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, vowed to ensure that trade barriers between the new oil producing country and its CARICOM neighbours were removed, a virtual Joint Ministerial Trade and Agricultural Meeting with Trinidad and Tobago was convened to discuss difficulties Guyana has been facing with market access to the twin island republic for its agro-products.
In his welcoming remarks, Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd welcomed Minister of Trade and Industry, Trinidad and Tobago, Paula Gopee-Scoon, and her delegation.
According to a press release from Guyana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Todd noted that as small states, the two countries often face challenges while contending in a rather competitive global arena. Further, he stated, “it is for us to be able to engage fruitfully at the political level with the support of our technical teams” to enjoy the benefits afforded by the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Minister Gopee-Scoon stated that the relationship with Guyana, which stems from the days of independence, continues to be of importance to the twin-island state. Furthermore, she noted that Guyana is a major market for products from Trinidad and Tobago.
During the meeting, the delegations discussed market access to Trinidad and Tobago, particularly the ban on the importation of poultry meat from Guyana, the formalization of an agreement to regulate trade in equine, and the trans-shipment of honey, among others. The delegations pledged to hold further discussions amongst the technical experts.
The Joint Ministerial Meeting was also attended by Guyana’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Trinidad and Tobago, Clarence Rambharat, Guyana’s Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud, and technical experts.
Speaking at the launch of the Canada-Guyana Chamber of Commerce on December 4, 2020, President Ali announced the formulation of a joint high-level team comprising government and private sector representatives to examine the existing barriers to trade which Guyana faces with its neighbours in CARICOM, most notably Trinidad and Tobago.
“I have asked the Foreign Ministry today to bring a list of all the hurdles we have in every single market in CARICOM and we are going to put together a joint team of the private sector and the Government to break down those hurdles, to get our products in,” Mr. Ali had stated.