Guyana and Brazil yesterday began meeting to discuss bilateral infrastructural integration aimed at seeing the establishment of a Guyana to Brazil Road, a hydro-electric plant and a deep water port, among other projects.
The meeting of representatives of a joint Working Infrastructure Group, which will wrap up today at the Guyana International Confer-ence Centre, Liliendaal, is in keeping with a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and Brazilian Minister of External Relations Antonio Patriota on December 5, last year. It was the first step in a long process in which Guyana was to accelerate key infrastructure projects which would tap into the booming Brazilian economy and the needs of its northern states.
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Robeson Benn and Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh yesterday underscored the importance of the meeting, while outlining the numerous benefits both countries stand to gain should the discussions of a Working Group on Infrastructure come to fruition.
This was reiterated by Ambassador Clemente Bavena Soares and Sergio Pillon Guerra, a representative of the state of Roraima, who also thanked the Guyana government for the opportunity to listen to their proposals. They were part of the over 25-member Brazil delegation.
It is believed that a deep water port and fully paved Linden to Lethem road would enable robust movement of Brazilian goods through Guyana to Roraima State, cutting down the much longer delivery time via Brazilian Atlantic Ocean ports. Such projects have been talked about for the last 20 years but have been slow to get off the mark.
Benn explained that, among other benefits, the projects would “offer employment and investment opportunities to Guyanese and Brazilians alike… it is envisaged that these cooperation projects will ensure energy security for future generations… the outcome of discussions by the two sides will result in concrete proposals being submitted and discussed… by June identifying specific timelines for implementation. ” He stated that as Guyanese and the Brazilians are in pursuit of common goals, they would improve existing relations and improve the lives of both peoples.
Singh made reference to the fact that for many years Guyana had seen the benefits of bilateral trade by the two countries but was bridled somewhat by logistics. “For many years Brazil’s potential as an economic giant has been recognised… in recent years that potential has demonstrated its realisation… through Brazil taking its rightful place amongst the world’s economic giants,” Singh said.
“The potential opportunities that arise from Guyana’s proximity to Brazil has long been recognised and heralded… for many years we have contemplated that being situated so close presents us with unique opportunities… for a long time realising this exciting prospect was restricted mostly by physical access and now we are happy that impediment is being removed,” he added .
He said that Guyana is aware and is encouraged by the high level of interest by the Brazilians, especially in the northern states, such as Bon Fim and Roraima, while noting the opportunities that would arise from the improved infrastructural links which will see both countries benefitting from increased trade and people-to-people contact.
Minister Rodrigues-Birkett has said that to fully realise the trade potential between the two nations, it is imperative that the Lethem –Linden road be upgraded. The road will benefit both countries as the northern part of Brazil, in particular, will have a shorter access route to the Atlantic Ocean.
The unpaved road has faced numerous upkeep problems over the years. It has suffered from deep flooding and several parts have broken down repeatedly along with bridges and culverts.