The Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretariat will today commence consultations with regional stakeholders as it moves to undertake a comprehensive review of the Community’s main trade instruments – the Common External Tariff (CET) and the Rules of Origin.
The consultation is in keeping with Caricom’s policy of encouraging the inclusion
of key stakeholders in the policy-making processes. It is supported by funding under the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).
It targets regional organisations interested in or likely to be affected by changes to the CET and the Rules of Origin, including academia, sector organisations, industry associations, regional policy advocacy organisations, and institutions of the Community.
Vice President and Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge last month held a briefing session with private and public stakeholders prior to the holding of a local review of the CET and Rules of Origin, with a view to ensuring an effective outcome of the consultancy.
Participants had expressed concerns about unfair trading practices by Caricom Member States, the preference of regional manufacturers for extra-regional inputs, use of technical specifications as a barrier to trade, and cases of alleged dumping of goods into the Guyanese market.
The attendees included representatives from the Guyana Revenue Authority, the New Guyana Marketing Corporation, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Private Sector Commission, the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association, and individual manufacturing entities, who underscored their commitment to a successful outcome of the consultancy.
Since 2001, Guyana had called for a review of the Caricom trading arrangements, particularly as it relates to rules and procedures governing suspensions of the CET and derogations from the Rules of Origin relative to new trading arrangements, as well as developments in the global trading regime and the dynamics of supply and demand trends.
The CET and the Rules of Origin were approved by the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) and the Conference of Heads of Government in 1990. Since then, the global and regional trading environments have changed significantly. Among those changes were the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO); the revision of the Treaty of Chaguaramas; the establishment of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) and the negotiation of several free trade agreements, including the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU).
In the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, Article 82 provides for the Community to establish and maintain a CET for goods which do not qualify for Community treatment in accordance with the plans and schedules of COTED. Article 83 (5) provides for COTED’s continuous review of the CET in whole or in part, to assess its impact on production and trade, as well as to secure its uniform implementation throughout the Community.
It is against this background that the COTED mandated the comprehensive review.