Guyana Private Sector Commission says local content law not in violation of regional Treaty

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Guyana’s Private Sector Commission (PSC) said on Thursday that the country’s local content law does not violate the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, the central document which governs the establishment of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Members of the business service organisation met on Thursday to discuss apparent objections to the law, after a local media frenzy captured the comments of several private sector leaders in Guyana taking issue with those objections which are attributed to the CARICOM Private Sector Organisation (CPSO) and President of the Trinidadian Massy Group of Companies, Gervase Warner in a leaked email.

The PSC questioned the legitimacy of the CPSO which, it said, does not represent the interest of the Guyanese private sector.

“The Commission notes that the purpose of Local Content straddles countries, regions and continents and forms an integral part of the Petroleum Sector,” the PSC said.

It reiterated its full support for Guyana’s Local Content Act, and urged foreign investors, though welcome, to respect Guyana’s laws and sovereign space.

It added that Trinidad and Tobago has had a local content regime in place for more than 50 years, which gives preference to Trinidadians, and that it is satisfied that Guyana’s policies are not dissimilar. This point has also been related by President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Timothy Tucker.

Tucker has gone to lengths on Facebook to explain that Trinidad and Tobago over the years has imposed non-tariff barriers which inhibit exports of Guyanese products to Trinidad. In the context of these and other comments, Tucker said that if that country’s private sector wants to challenge Guyana’s local content law, Guyana should exit the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and review the benefits of its CARICOM membership.

The question of whether the new law is in breach was raised by Guyana’s Opposition Member of Parliament, David Patterson when the law was being debated in December. Patterson said that CARICOM had already written to the Opposition, expressing concern that there is a violation.

Guyana’s Attorney General said in response that many countries, including Trinidad, Suriname and Norway, have local content regimes. He added that the government has considered the question and that it will address the matter if it comes up.

The government is expected to weigh in on the recent objections soon.

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