Govt. to establish office in Geneva Switzerland
…to promote Foreign Trade policy
The area of trade is expected to be the primary focus of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the New Year,
said Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge. He added that his ministry will be moving to set up an office in Geneva, Switzerland to specifically deal with matters of international trade.
During his ministry’s end of year press conference, yesterday, Greenidge said that in light of the recent initiatives to create trade blocs in the Pacific, the controversy taking place in the trade bloc of the European Union and the impact of new policies by the President designate of the United States, Donald Trump, international and regional trade agreements will be the focus of some of the international economic diplomacy during the course of 2017.
“We have a section which is responsible for this; we are trying to build up that section and as part of that undertaking, you would know that we have agreed to establish an office in Geneva, because Geneva actually is the city other than New York which has the largest number of international bodies.”
Greenidge said Geneva is an important location since it has the headquarters of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). “The WTO is the major international institution that has responsibility for defining and enforcing rules on trade.
“So if countries put up illegal trade barriers or are seeking to deepen trade relations amongst themselves that initiative has to be consistent with the rules as agreed in the WTO.”
The Minister said that for Guyana, a member of the WTO, to ensure it is living within the rules it has agreed to, there is a need for staff that have the competence which understand the rules which have become increasingly complicated. Greenidge said that in addition to economists there is now a need for lawyers.
“International trade was at one stage, almost the sole purview of economists who would have international trade, international monetary economics. Today you will find a large number of lawyers amongst any group of international trade, simply because there are so many agreements and so many principles enshrined in those trading agreements.”
Greenidge said that in addition to having the government’s team properly constituted it must be properly located. He said that Guyana was once the regional representative on international trade matters but there was no officer in Geneva where discussions were taking place.
He said that this placed a burden on the government to send a representative stationed in Brussels, Belgium or Georgetown and those individuals never learned the system as they should.
“So we have decided to assign officers there in an Embassy, you already have an ambassador there, Ambassador Deep Ford, with extensive international experience particularly in the area of agriculture and agricultural trade. One of our officers from Washington has been assigned there to look at political matters.”
To further enhance trade, Greenidge said that his ministry has been working along with other bilateral partners within the Caribbean and Latin America region. He said that this is important for encouraging investment. These measures include visa arrangements and visa waivers for persons travelling.
According to the Minister, this is important since the development of Guyana will not solely depend on locals but the input of others who wish to enter the country. He said that if Guyana plans to survive mainly on the basis of its numbers, the country will not get very far and this therefore calls for economic integration.