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Guyana preps for Third Round of WTO Trade Policy Review

Posted in: Regional News | 21 October 2014 | 2192

    Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues- Birkett with Counsellor of the WTO Trade Policies Review Division, Masahiro Hayafuji
    Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues- Birkett with Counsellor of the WTO Trade Policies Review Division, Masahiro Hayafuji

    …Foreign Minister urges fair treatment of small economies

    AS Guyana comes under review for the third time by the Trade Policy Review Body (TPRB) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Foreign Affairs Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett is calling for fair treatment of countries across the board, regardless of the strength of their economies.

    The Foreign Affairs Ministry on Monday received a delegation of experts from the WTO as part of a Technical team for the Third WTO Trade Policy Review of Guyana.
    The World Trade Organisation acts as a forum for governments to negotiate trade agreements and settle trade disputes. The organisation, which was established in 1995, is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and has a membership of 160 countries, which includes Guyana.

    The trade policy review is not used for enforcing Guyana’s or any other country’s obligations under Agreements, but to ensure a smoother functioning of the international trade system whether between one country and another, or between a group of countries.

    Similarly, the review is neither intended to settle agreement disputes nor to impose new policy commitments on countries being reviewed.
    The review is normally attended by other member countries, where questions are given before the session or are asked during the meetings. Guyana will have an opportunity to respond to those questions either immediately or within 30 days of the meeting.
    The policy statement later produced by Guyana, which clearly defines the country’s future intentions in foreign trade, will be built up by the questions made and asked by other members attending the review meetings.

    Fully accepting the nature of the review, Minister Birkett stated that the Foreign Affairs Ministry maintains two goals: firstly, to build an effective trade policy that will advance Guyana’s interests with other countries and, secondly, to identify opportunities for developing new markets for exportable goods and services.
    Recalling Guyana’s position at the Second Trade Policy Review in 2009, Minister Birkett said, “Guyana is a very open economy and its support for a transparent, rules-based multilateral trading system is unambiguous.
    While this is so, she said small economies, like Guyana, continue to be faced with challenges in an increasingly globalised world.
    “Small trading economies, such as those of the Caribbean community, are faced with even more challenges in this increasingly globalised world characterised by rapid economic integration and trade liberalisation”, she stated, while pointing to Guyana’s trade obligations to CARICOM under the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
    “As we continue to adjust to globalisation, membership becomes more important”, Birkett said as she praised the efforts of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) in its response to the global trade economy.

    Further adding on the need for smaller countries to become integrated, she said that such a move is “about recognising that our national interest is becoming more global.”
    The Foreign Minister urged that the processes of liberalisation and globalisation “must ensure sustainability and stability in the development of the small economies [where] dislocations must be minimised to the very least.”

    Meanwhile, on the local scene, Birkett stressed the need for Private Sector involvement, since that body “has no other choice but to make the necessary adjustments in order to flourish in this highly technological and indeed more competitive environment.”
    “It is obligatory for the Private Sector to be proactive in its approach with respect to trade policy matters”, she said.

    (By Derwayne Wills)