Guyana, 3rd CARICOM country to ratify WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Alicia Nicholls

As a welcomed update to my article last week entitled the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and Caribbean Small Island Developing States, Guyana has become the third member state of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to ratify the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement. In so doing, it joins Belize and Trinidad & Tobago as the only CARICOM states so far to have ratified the Agreement.

The TFA seeks to expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods across borders through the harmonisation, simplification and acceleration of customs procedures and to improve cooperation among member states in customs matters. Full implementation of the TFA could increase global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion  per year, according to the WTO’s World Trade Report 2015.

The TFA will go into effect once two-thirds of the WTO’s 161 member states ratifies it. Guyana is now the 53rd WTO member state and the first South American country to have done so. According to the WTO’s press release, Guyana’s instrument of acceptance was received by the WTO Secretariat yesterday November 30.

In its third Trade Policy Review of Guyana report published in September 2015,  the WTO Secretariat noted positively that:

Guyana continued to streamline customs procedures and implement trade-facilitation measures during the review period. Since Customs started its operation of risk management in 2009, physical inspections have no longer been required for each consignment of imports and exports (except for export to the United States and the United Kingdom), and the length of time required for customs procedures has been reduced.

In April 2015, Guyana established a National Committee on Trade Facilitation  to coordinate the work needed for the implementation of the TFA.  From a check of the WTO website’s section on Category A notifications, it appears that Guyana has since its review still not as yet submitted its Category A notifications. Additionally, legislation will be needed to provide for advance rulings and pre-shipment inspection as required under the TFA.

Given the financial and technical constraints of implementation, it is expected that Guyana will avail itself of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Facility which was established to provide support for Least-developed countries and other developing countries.

Guyana’s ratification of the Agreement is a step in the right direction and it is hoped that other CARICOM states will follow suit.

My article last week on the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and Small Island Developing States can be read here.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. Please note that the views expressed in this article are solely hers. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.

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