Guyana improves significantly in trade facilitation

0
312
Acting President Carl Greenidge (second, left) opened the five-day workshop on Monday. With him, from left, are UNCTAD Facilitators Pamela Ugaz and Bismark Sitorus and UNCTAD Programme Manager Terence Leonard. (Adrian Narine photo)

…surpasses several countries in TFA compliance

EVER since the establishment of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which kicked off on February 22, 2017, Guyana has been doing exceptionally well in its level of compliance, well ahead of a number of developing countries.

Acting President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, made the observation on Monday when he opened a five-day workshop intended to address capacity building on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

The workshop, a result of ongoing engagements between the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Government of Guyana, is being financed by the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting via Her Majesty Revenue and Customs, United Kingdom.

It will provide an opportunity for discussion on strengthening Guyana’s competitiveness, increasing exports and growing the economy.
According to Greenidge, Guyana is on schedule to fulfill its notification requirements on an ongoing basis and has, according to the WTO Committee’s assessment, a current rate of implementation of 73.1 per cent, which places the country well ahead of a number of developing countries, including CARICOM countries, whose average rate of implementation was 59.1 percent.

“Guyana has taken a number of steps to modernise its customs administration and promote trade facilitation. These include the Ratification and Notifications requirement – Guyana ratified the TFA on Nov 30, 2015 and submitted five requisite (categories A, B, and C) notifications to the WTO during the period 2016-2018, including those on its transparency commitments, and contact points for offices responsible for coordinating donor support,” Greenidge informed.

In a similar vein, UNCTAD Facilitator, Pamela Ugaz, told this publication that the workshop will be seeking to collaborate with stakeholders, especially the private sector, to look at how Guyana is performing under the agreement.
“Your level of compliance is really high. You are really very advanced,” Ugaz stated, adding that the workshop will therefore seek to reinforce the work of the National Trade Facilitation Committees (NTFCs) to ensure that everyone has an even level of knowledge about the trade facilitation agreement and how Guyana is performing.

The Minister said he was pleased to see the wide representation of the regulatory agencies of Guyana’s NTFCs at the workshop, thus proving that the agencies understand their role in facilitating implementation of the agreement.

A number of trade facilitation experts from UNCTAD will be on hand to share their expertise and experiences, and to provide support to the National Trade Facilitation Committee with respect to developing a national facilitation roadmap; sharpening the skills necessary to effectively implement reforms under the WTO TFA; and sustaining the work of the national committee.

The FTA, Greenidge noted, was meant to contribute to the simplification, modernisation and harmonisation of export and import processes. In essence, it should ensure that global trade grows faster, is cheaper and more predictable. The TFA especially matters for Guyana as the country is expected to be the biggest beneficiary from implementing the TFA’s provisions.

“Trade facilitation reforms are important. They will allow us to improve the efficiency of our systems and will bring numerous spill-over benefits which include reducing transaction costs associated with importing and exporting goods, boosting our export competitiveness, helping to sustain our economic growth, improving our attraction to foreign investors, facilitating easier entry into foreign markets, improving revenue collection, contributing to job creation, improving the business climate, and facilitating more efficient and transparent delivery of public services,” Greenidge expressed.

“It is precisely because of the anticipated gains that Guyana expects that it embraces the TFA, and through the national trade facilitation committee, facilitates inter-agency cooperation for the purpose of implementation,” he added.

WAY FORWARD
Minister Greenidge observed that the focus for the National Trade Facilitation Committee should be to look at elements of the WTO TFA that can be mainstreamed into existing national or sectoral policies and initiatives to ensure the maximum benefits to small businesses, as well as to ensure trade and investment opportunities are fully taken advantage of.

Focus, he said, should also be placed on seeking technical assistance and capacity building support under the WTO TFA and its newly-launched project preparation and project implementation grant programmes in order to foster effective implementation of the TFA.
“I wish to urge the committee to also look at support programmes available from other development partners, bearing in mind that the provision of support, whether financial or technical, is often a demand-driven process,” he said.

He added that successful implementation of the TFA will require collaboration in all directions; between the public and private-sectors; and within the public sector and between Guyana and its development partners. “There is also need to ensure active and continued dialogue within our National Committee to address new and ongoing trade facilitation issues and to ensure the overall effective implementation of the agreement.

I trust that we will all embrace the TFA as an opportunity to drive the reforms to make Guyana an even more prosperous place to do business.”
The next event is tentatively set for September 2019 to further build on the key outputs of this workshop.