Business forum to mark GMSA’s 50th anniversary

Representatives of local and regional state and private sector entities, and from the United States, Canada, Brazil, India and China will participate in an October 3 International Business Forum which will be coordinated by the Guyana Manufacturing & Services Association (GMSA) as part of a series of events being held to mark the association’s 50th anniversary.

A GMSA source said that while the Business Forum is part of the official GuyExpo 2013 programme, the decision that the association will execute the event is intended to highlight the importance of its 50th anniversary. The release said the event will be held at the International Conference Centre, Liliendaal

GMSA President Clinton Williams
GMSA President Clinton Williams

and that all sectors of the Guyanese business community are likely to be represented.

The main objectives of the forum, according to the release, are to provide the community with up-to-date information on current trade issues and to foster the establishment of business partnerships with foreign enterprises.

Founded in 1963 as the Guyana Light Employers Association (GLEA), the Guyana Manufacturing Association (GMA) – so re-named in 1967 – is one of three major urban business support organisations. The other two are the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In 2005, in recognition of the growth of its membership from amongst an expanding services sub-sector, the GMA was renamed the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA). By then it had established itself as the organisation recognised by both the private sector and the state as an important institution for deliberations on issues pertaining to the country’s manufacturing sector.

Over the years, the GMSA has come to be regarded as an important lobbyist for the manufacturing and services sector in matters pertaining to relations between government and the various sub-sectors, though members frequently charge the organisation with not being nearly sufficiently proactive in articulating its concerns. That notwithstanding, the GMSA has been working with sub-sector firms to help its members secure external market access. The GMSA has also collaborated with various local and external entities to provide support to manufacturers seeking access to new markets or to technology associated with the labelling and packaging of produce. The GMSA has also undertaken research and feasibility studies to help advance members’ entrepreneurial interests. The GMSA’s sub-committees cover agro-processing, textiles and sewn goods, printing and packaging, construction and engineering, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, minerals and related industries, forestry and wood products and services.

In reflecting on its recent history, the GMSA will doubtless recall the challenges associated with the slowdown in the country’s manufacturing sector associated chiefly with the high cost of electricity and challenges linked to securing markets for locally produced goods on both the regional and international markets.

Some local manufacturers have accused the GMSA of remaining quiet on the issue of the increased influx of Chinese traders, though the organisation appears to have taken the official line that Guyana is an open market and the Chinese are welcome to sell their goods here.

The October 3 forum will include a session titled Doing Business with China, which will be led by an official representing the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT). The GMSA release says the association has developed a relationship with CCPIT.

The agenda for the October 3 forum will also include presentations on Business Opportunities in Northern Brazil in the manufacturing and services sectors as well as a session on the work of the Caribbean Export Development Agency including its collaborative work with the GMSA.

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