Ambassador David Hales last Friday signed the CARIFORUM-United Kingdom Economic Partnership Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on behalf of the Government of Guyana. The Honourable George Hollingberry, Minister of State for Trade Policy of the Department of International Trade signed on behalf of the United Kingdom.
The signing, which took place on the margins of the twenty-fifth meeting of the CARIFORUM [the Caribbean Forum] Council of Ministers in St. Lucia, is of economic importance to Guyana’s private sector considering that the United Kingdom is Guyana’s largest trading partner in Europe and its sixth overall. The partnership accounts for about two per cent of imports and almost nine per cent of all exports. Furthermore, the United Kingdom is an important market for export of Guyana’s sugar, rice and rum. At the regional level, absorbing about a quarter of exports from the Caribbean, the United Kingdom is the largest trading partner for CARIFORUM.
Signing the Agreement is a direct response to the impending exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union as the current trade arrangement governing Guyana’s exports to the British market will lapse once that State leaves the regional body. Additionally, this action is the culmination of an approach agreed between CARIFORUM and the United Kingdom in March 2017 to ensure continuity in the existing preferential trading relations, including duty free quota conditions, among others.
Eight other CARIFORUM Member States — Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines — signed the Agreement, while others have signaled their intention to do so shortly.
Guyana, along with other CARIFORUM States, and the United Kingdom will now take the necessary domestic procedures that will allow for the Agreement to come into effect as soon as the latter leaves the European Union. [Ministry of Foreign Affairs]