Uninterrupted market access for Guyana as UK exits EU today

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Dr Ashni Singh, Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance

Guyana has signed a new Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM)-UK Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) that would see the country benefiting from uninterrupted market access as the United Kingdom officially exits the European Union (EU) today.

The UK formally exited the EU on January 31, 2020, but was on a transition that would end today, December 31, 2020.

Since then, trade between CARIFORUM states and the UK has been governed by the CARIFORUM-EU EPA. However, as of today, the CARIFORUM-EU EPA would cease to apply to trade between CARIFORUM states and the UK.

Against this backdrop, Senior Minister in the Office of the President, with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, on Wednesday signed and issued a Ministerial Order that gives effect to the CARIFORUM-UK EPA.

The Ministerial Order brings into effect, from January 1, 2021 the CARIFORUM-UK EPA which will serve as the fundamental mechanism that ensures continuity in the existing preferential trading and investment relations, and facilitate uninterrupted market access and other EPA benefits for CARIFORUM states in trade with the UK.

The CARIFORUM-UK EPA is a roll-over agreement from the CARIFORUM-EU EPA, as it replicates all relevant sections of the existing EPA with necessary technical and administrative changes to make the agreement operable in a CARIFORUM-UK context.

The EPA is of economic importance to Guyana’s Private Sector, considering that the UK is Guyana’s largest trading partner in Europe and sixth largest trading partner overall. It accounts for 2.1 per cent of imports, 8.8 per cent of all exports, and is an important market for exports of sugar, rice and rum.

At the regional level, the UK is the largest trading partner for CARIFORUM. It absorbs 25% of exports from the region.

An economic partnership agreement (EPA) is a type of free trade agreement for relationships with developing countries.

In addition to Guyana, other countries that would be covered by the CARIFORUM-UK EPA are: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, The Bahamas, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The Republic of Suriname has approved participation in principle.