On March 2 and 4, Guyana underwent its fourth trade policy review at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The trade policy review mechanism (TPRM) is an important component of the WTO’s work to ensure transparency in the rules-based multilateral trading system. Under the TPRM, all WTO members’ trade policies and practices are reviewed at regular intervals. The frequency of a member’s review depends on the member’s share of world trade. Guyana’s previous review was in 2015.
The WTO’s full membership, meeting in its capacity as the Trade Policy Review Body (TPRB), discusses both the WTO Secretariat report and a policy statement by the government of the member under review which form the basis of the review. Guyana’s delegation was headed by the Honourable Mr. Deodat Indar, Minister within the Ministry of Public Works.
The Chairperson’s concluding remarks at the end of Guyana’s TPR provide useful insights on some of the issues and comments raised by members during the review process. According to the Chairperson’s remarks, “Guyana received 162 written questions from 10 Members, and has already responded to the majority of them”.
Members commended Guyana for its impressive economic growth buoyed by recent oil discoveries, while also acknowledging the on-going challenges such as those posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Members also applauded Guyana’s active participation in, and contribution to, the work of the multilateral trading system, the country’s commitment to improving its business environment, combatting illegal logging and strengthening forest governance and efforts towards good governance and inclusive and sustainable development. Members also expressed interest in Guyana’s new copyright legislation and its plans to modernize intellectual property laws.
Members outlined some areas for greater improvement, such as its business environment, increasing transparency in its government procurement practices, engaging in regulatory reforms for improving its service sector and the longstanding situation where some applied tariff rates exceeded their corresponding bound rates. Questions were also raised about Guyana’s recent local content law and how the framework might affect existing joint ventures and create additional barriers to foreign investment.
The documents from Guyana’s review may be accessed here.
Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development specialist and founder of the CaribbeanTradeLaw blog http://www.caribbeantradelaw.com.