SOUTH FLORIDA – The Guyanese American Chamber of Commerce (GCAA) wishes to draw to the attention of the business community in the United States and Guyana the fact that the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA) will expire on September 30, 2020 and to urge the private sector at home and in the US, as well as the Government of Guyana in collaboration with its CARICOM partners to embark on efforts to ensure that this Act is extended by the US Congress for at least another 10 years.
The GCAA takes note that legislation has been introduced in the US Congress to have this Act extended until 2030 and urges that the Private Sector Commission (PSC) of Guyana, the American Chamber of Guyana (AMCHAM) and the Government of Guyana in collaboration with other CARICOM member states immediately examine mechanisms for supporting the legislation which seeks to extend the Act until 2030.
Extension of this Act will reauthorize the extension of the US Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) until 2030 as well.
In this connection the GCAA stands ready to work with all stakeholders to ensure the passage of this bipartisan extension legislation introduced by Representatives Terri Sewell (D-Al) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH).
The GCAA has already begun interaction with the Washington, DC based Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) with a view to moving this process forward.
The CBTPA which has been in effect since 2000 provides for the duty free and quota free import of goods into the US and is intended to help offset the growing imbalance in US/Caribbean trade.
The GCAA notes that an examination of the benefits accrued to Caribbean nations under this Act indicates that Guyana has not been among the major beneficiaries of the provisions of this Act and calls for enhanced efforts on the part of the business communities in the US and Guyana to seek increased benefit from this Act as well as the US/Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act.
The private sector and the Government of Guyana should be exploring ways to have barriers to exports to the US reduced if not removed so as to facilitate increased exports of Guyanese products.
There needs to be more dedicated efforts on the part of all CARICOM member states as a collective to lobby for the removal of protectionist policies in the US especially with regard to the export of rum and textiles from the region.
Guyana also needs to address structural and policy weaknesses at home which serve to restrict full exploitation of export markets in the US.
The GCAA is following closely recent developments taking place in Guyana and understands that current issues are pre-occupying the attention of the Government and stakeholders. But the business of business must go on as efforts must continue to build the economy and create employment, especially for the youth population.
It is only through a visionary and dynamic private sector with the support of the political establishment, including both Government and Opposition, that a continuous enabling environment would exist for strengthening the economy and generating meaningful employment.
In this connection the GCAA urges all stakeholders in Guyana to treat the current situation there with maturity, reasonableness and in accordance with the law, never losing sight of the bigger picture….a better quality of life for all Guyanese.