WTO Trade Policy Review of Guyana
Statement of the US Representative
Deputy Chief of Mission
Thank you, Chair.
A warm welcome to you Minister and the entire Guyanese delegation.
As Guyana’s number one trading partner, the United States’ commercial relationship with that country remains vibrant and growing. Our total two-way goods trade during 2014 increased by 11 percent from 2013. In addition, total goods trade is up nearly 8 percent in the first six months of 2015 (compared to the same period in 2014). We are hopeful that our trade relationship will continue to expand.
I would note that Guyana is one of 17 countries to benefit from the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act and one of only eight to enjoy the expanded access under the Caribbean Trade Partnership Act, which together with Most Favored Nation status and the General System of Preferences provide Guyana with duty-free access to the U.S. market for 99.6 percent of its goods.
Guyana has taken a number of measures to further integrate with the global economy. We welcome the Secretariat’s observation that Guyana is in the process of accepting the Trade Facilitation Agreement and has created a National Trade Facilitation Committee. We were encouraged to hear the Minister’s statement that Guyana will soon submit its Category A notification, and we hope this will also apply to submission of Guyana’s instrument of acceptance of the Agreement. Also, Guyana’s own Government Report emphasizes a number of vital public sector reforms, including reforms related to Information and Communication Technologies infrastructure development and telecom liberalization. Earlier this year, Guyana also conducted a public discussion of a change to the tariff regime for vehicles, with the stated aim to encourage the importation of new cars as opposed to older, less environmentally friendly used cars.
With regard to intellectual property rights, a key issue for Guyana’s economic development, Guyana has indicated that its new Copyright Bill is in an advanced stage of preparation as part of a comprehensive review of overall Intellectual Property legislation – aimed at updating and modernizing the legislation as a whole. The Secretariat’s Report adds that under the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and CARIFORUM, Guyana is committed to acceding to other treaties administered under the World Intellectual Property Organization, as well as to adequately implementing the obligation of intellectual property agreements it has already signed, including the Organization’s foundational Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement.
While Guyana has reason to be pleased with its efforts in these and other areas, the United States would like to highlight a few areas that we believe need greater attention. Although Guyana had taken measures to improve the country’s business environment leading up to the last review in 2009, challenges have in some ways increased. In 2015, Guyana dropped to 123rd out of 189 economies analyzed in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index. Further reforms, and consistent implementation, are needed to promote investment, which the government continues to view as critical to the country’s economic development.
We had hoped that the government would have made even greater strides in implementing its WTO commitments since the 2009 TPR. The Secretariat’s Report states that Guyana’s implementation of its taxation system continues to include applying zero-rated VATs to some locally produced products but not to their imported equivalents. This works against a basic tenet of WTO membership regarding national treatment.
The United States also observes a need for more continued progress by Guyana on improving transparency in a way calculated to benefit both Guyana and its trading partners. For example, Guyana has not submitted any notifications regarding state trading enterprises within the meaning of Article XVII of the GATT 1994, despite having a notification obligation to do so since 1995. Nor has Guyana provided notification of its export subsidy programs.
Nevertheless, as stated previously, we remain encouraged by the strides that have been made. The United States will continue to work with Guyana and the other CARICOM members to strengthen and deepen our relationship. We have submitted questions and a few responses are still outstanding. We look forward to discussing and reviewing Guyana’s responses.