The Governments of Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago this morning signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in a number of critical areas including agriculture, trade, tourism and culture.
The MoU was signed by the Foreign Ministers of the two neighbouring CARICOM states at State House under the eyes of President Irfaan Ali and Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley.
A special joint team will now be established by the two countries to ensure the implementation of the MoU.
The MoU is also expected to see the two countries working with each other to enhance trade and investment and address non-tariff barriers.
The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce had called on the Government not to sign the MoU until issues that affect the trade of some Guyanese products and produce with Trinidad and Tobago were addressed.
President Ali said discussions between the Governments of Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago have been very focused and have examined areas of missed opportunity and areas where there is a need for improvement in the relations.
“It has been very positive and forward-looking, and it was very frank and very open and it gave us an opportunity not only to examine a sector but it gave us the opportunity to take the bull by the horn, and to identify in an open and frank way, missed opportunities and to help us to identify opportunities in the future and blocks to opportunities”, the President said.
The private sector in Guyana has been pressing the Government to get Trinidad and Tobago to remove some of the trade barriers that have been hampering the export of some Guyanese products to the twin-island republic.
The President said the two governments are not naive about that situation.
He said “we are not naive and we are not unaware of impediments or blocks or constraints or challenges. And in our discussions, we took all of that into consideration. But what we have concluded and chartered is a joint commitment on how we are going to secure the future of the people of these two countries.”
Trinida and Tobago’s Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley praised the steps taken by Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago to enhance their relations, but warned against not working together for the betterment of each other and the community.
“I want to say to the people of Guyana and the people of Trinidad and Tobago and the wider CARICOM that we are limited only by our own vision and our own commitment to do what has to be done. Once we commit ourselves to do what has to be done to improve our circumstances, nothing will prevent us from achieving success. On the other hand, if we are timid, if we are defensive, if we are malicious and if we are uncaring then time will pass us by”, Rowley said.
He said there are problems that exist in the community and it is because of the recognition of those problems, there have been efforts to address the problems.
The MoU also sets the stage for co-operation with the wider Caribbean, as Caribbean leaders have set strict timelines to address issues such as food security and transportation and logistics.
Dr. Rowley viewed the MOU as historic, noting that there are lots that can be achieved if the two countries work together. He said talks between Guyana and Trinidad on a number of other issues are at an advanced stage but so far he is pleased with the progress made.