There are calls for the Guyana government to block a proposed Memorandum of Understanding with Trinidad and Tobago?
Guyana’s Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry has made the call, saying it disagrees with the Guyanese government’s move and urging against any signing until non-tariff barriers that T&T allegedly have in place against Guyana are removed.
The chamber stated this position yesterday, noting that such barriers prevent exports from Guyanese businesses and inhibit the growth of Guyanese enterprises.
The Guyanese Chamber’s view followed Tuesday’s development where Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley met with Guyana President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali and both pledged to deepen ties between the two countries.
Rowley and a team of three ministers are currently in Guyana for Guyana’s Agri-Investment Expo, which starts today.
On Tuesday, the Office of the Prime Minister in T&T had stated that Rowley and Ali had engaged in broad, extensive bilateral talks and pledged to deepen ties between Guyana and T&T. Discussions focused specifically on agriculture, energy and national security.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) covering these key areas is being finalised, the OPM added.
But yesterday’s statement from the Georgetown Chamber, headed by Timothy Tucker, stated the chamber’s disagreement with the MoU action by Guyana’s government.
The Georgetown Chamber stated, «The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) is cognisant of the government of Guyana’s intent to establish and sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of Trinidad and Tobago.»
The chamber noted that according to reports, the target areas for the MoU are intended to be agriculture, energy and national security.
However, the Chamber said it «wishes to express its disagreement with this action by the government of Guyana. The chamber’s concern comes in light of the fact that there are still many non-tariff barriers (NTBs) implemented by Trinidad and Tobago against Guyana.»
«These NTBs prevent exports from Guyanese businesses and, by extension, inhibit the growth of Guyanese enterprises. Accordingly, the Chamber of Commerce, as it did in 2018 with a previous MoU of a similar nature, strongly urges the government to refrain from signing any MoU with Trinidad and Tobago until these non-tariff barriers are removed,» the chamber said.
«Being the oldest and largest private-sector representation organisation in Guyana, it is our mandate to ensure that the concerns of the enterprises that have continuously expressed difficulties as it relates to doing business in and with Trinidad and Tobago are voiced.
«The Chamber of Commerce, therefore, reiterates its disagreement with this action by the Government of Guyana and, once again, urges that these long-standing NTBs be removed.»
Guyana Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond didn’t answer Guardian Media calls on the issue yesterday.
Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd also wasn’t available.
A Guyana government official said the query on the chamber’s statement was sent to the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Former United National Congress MP Ganga Singh, who is Trade Director at Guyana’s Port-of-Spain consulate, didn’t respond on the issue either. Singh is leading a delegation to the Agri-Forum.
Meanwhile, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon yesterday declined comment on the NTB matter, pointing out that the Prime Minister and other ministers are on the ground in Guyana and she was certain there would be bilateral talks on all areas.
Rowley didn’t reply to WhatsApp queries on the matter. Nor did Foreign Affairs Minister Amery Browne, who is also in Guyana with the PM.
Newly-appointed T&T High Commissioner to Guyana, Conrad Enill, was also unavailable.
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LINK ORIGINAL: The Trinidad Guardian