PRESIDENT of Guyana, Irfaan Ali, called on the private sector in the Caribbean to collaborate to remove the barriers to trade that are impeding the development of regional economies. Addressing the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA) President’s Dinner and Awards function by video conference, he said he would share a document with the association that deals with the barriers to trade in the Caricom, on a country-by-country basis.

“I hope that by sharing this, your association would partner with associations across Caricom in raising your voices, enjoining a collective effort for the removal of these barriers to trade,” said Ali.

In his address, President Ali said he would have loved to have seen much more accomplished out of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) but that various individual barriers to trade imposed by member countries were stifling the progress.

“Some are nonsensical… some of these barriers imposed can be withdrawn overnight if we are serious about building capacity and opening up opportunities,” he said, making reference also to a document from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on regional integration that noted that the “absence of a regional body with powers and accountability that can help transform community decisions to binding laws in individual jurisdictions is a key impediment.”

“So it’s not a lack of decisions. The heads are making decisions. It is the responsibility of individual states to take those decisions seriously and implement them.

“This is of concern and this is what Prime Minister Mottley has been speaking of extensively. We cannot move forward regionally as a people, as a collective, if we are not willing to act in a selfless manner,” Ali said. Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley has been mandated to take the lead in the implementation of the CSME.

The Guyanese president also told the audience of manufacturers at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain of the relative geographic closeness and strong cultural ties between T&T and Guyana. “There are strong economic linkages” with trade being valued at more than half a billion US dollars in 2020.

He said Guyana imported US$514 million in products and services from Port of Spain, while Georgetown exported US$35 million.

The Guyana head of state, who has lead responsibility for agriculture, agricultural diversification and food security in Caricom, said the region is importing three times more than it is exporting and that the number is higher for manufactured goods which average at seven times more than what is exported.

“…And [we are] doing so when we have countries in the group with natural resources that can match it and be an alternative. We are doing so when we have energy costs in countries in a region that is as competitive as any other in the world.

“So what is lacking? What is causing this gap? Can’t we do this?” Ali asked.

At the ceremony, the Lifetime Achievement Award was given to the late TTMA president Stuart Dalgliesh, who died in September. The award was received by his son.

The following companies received awards:

Category Company

Innovator of the Year 2020 Angostura

Green Manufacturer of the Year 2020 Trinidad Cement

Supplier of Services Award (SoS) 2020 Ferreira Optical

New Market Entrant (Exporter of

the Year) Small/Medium 2020 ABEL Building Solutions

New Market Entrant (Exporter of

the Year) Large 2020 Langston Roach Industries

Manufacturer of the Year Small 2020 Vicmol (2007)

Manufacturer of the Year Medium 2020 RHS Marketing

Manufacturer of the Year Large 2020 Nestlé Trinidad & Tobago

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