Guyana Free Trade Agreement

As a signatory to the U.S. summit, Guyana has accepted the principle of creating a free trade area for the United States. Guyana enjoys preferential access to the United States under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), an extension of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) of 1983. The benefits of cbTPA are in effect for a “transitional period” that will remain in effect until September 30, 2020 or on the effective date of the U.S. Free Trade Area or other free trade agreement, as described in the legislation, between the United States and a CBTPA recipient country. Guyana also enjoys preferential market access in Canada under CaribCan. Guyana, a Member State of the Caribbean on the South American continent, has a population of about 800,000. With a gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 3% in 2015, the country is considered a low-income country that relies heavily on sugar and rice for export-oriented exports. Other non-traditional exports, such as fishing and agricultural products, are becoming increasingly important. Gold and bauxite mines also contribute significantly to the domestic economy, although both products are affected by falling world market prices.

Current imports exceed exports, resulting in a trade deficit in the country. The Cariforum-Economic Trade Agreement (CEPOL), of which Guyana is a member, grants a temporary exemption to all Cariforum products for rice and sugar, duty-free and quota-free access to the European Union. The CARIFORUM region is the first group of countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific to benefit from a comprehensive EPA with Europe, covering not only goods, but also services, investment and trade-related issues, such as innovation and intellectual property. In addition to the process of regional integration, I have also participated in Guyana`s bilateral initiatives, including helping to negotiate new trade agreements. These initiatives aim to enable Caribbean countries to access important international markets in order to stimulate trade exports. Emphasis has been placed on the implementation of existing bilateral agreements, such as the EU-Cariforum Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Although the five-year CARiforum-EU review report (2008-2013) indicated that the implementation of EPAs was limited in the Cariforum countries, Guyana was, in most areas, one of the few countries on which the planned commitments were on track.

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