The Chilean government has signalled its intention to help Guyana with regulation of its mining sector and according to President Michelle Bachelet there will be cooperation in other key areas.
On the sidelines of the 37th Caricom Heads of Governments conference, Bachelet engaged President David Granger in a high-level discourse.
Bachelet told reporters minutes after the meeting, which was held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, that they discussed the mining sector since Guyana depends heavily on gold, diamond, and bauxite and Chile is a “very experienced country in copper” and also in terms of the regulatory framework. She highlighted the importance of regulatory norms that would “prevent consequences that the country does not want…” in the extraction of the natural resources.
Talks between the two leaders also touched on agriculture and health issues, such as malnutrition, she informed.
“So, it is a lot of different areas we are looking after to continue to between the two countries,” the Chilean head of state said.
Bachelet arrived in Guyana on Monday to participate in bilateral talks with Caricom heads to strengthen ties between her country and member states.
Granger has been invited to Chile and according to President Bachelet he has accepted the invitation but the two countries would decide on an appropriate date. It is hoped that by the time Granger visits Chile, the two countries would have also achieved “something to show on our cooperation….”
Asked about scholarships, she told reporters that it was discussed but a number was not arrived at and the Foreign Ministers of the two governments have been given the task of finding out the areas of study, which should focus on capacity building and also on Spanish proficiency.
Financial assistance to Guyana was not discussed during the almost one-hour bilateral meeting but she said that during discussion with all the leaders at the summit, the situation of Caricom countries, in terms of lack of access to financing and problems with correspondent banking, was put on the front burner. “So, we have asked for all the information to see in which way we can support,” she said.
During the conference’s morning session, which was held at the Pegasus Hotel, Bachelet addressed the Heads of Government. It was after this that she met with President Granger.
Just before heading off to meet with him, she informed that she had already held discussions with several Caricom leaders.
She informed that she was at the meeting because she believes that the Caribbean region and Latin America are important priorities for Santiago. “We both have similar challenges; not only how we increase our democracies, how we defeat poverty, but also how we deal with climate change challenges,” she said.
Asked how important it is for Caricom to stick together, she said that regional blocs are important and that “in every bloc… there can be legitimate differences but the important thing is that every bloc focus on the things that are more important and work together to deal with those challenges.”
With regards to her discussions with Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr. Keith Rowley, Bachelet said that their meeting focused on trade cooperation. “Trinidad and Tobago is our biggest provider of [liquefied natural gas], so we are working on the idea of making some trade agreement that would improve the kind of trade that we are doing,” she said.
She informed that the discussions also involved Caricom, specifically with regards to agriculture and food security, Spanish proficiency and airlines collaboration.
Asked about discussions with the Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Bachelet said that the same kinds of things were also discussed with him. “We are working on different projects with different countries. Many countries of Caricom, some of them bilaterally, and I would say it is about agriculture and food security, we are talking about working with many countries,” she noted.
According to Bachelet, Chile has advanced legislation in terms of food production and Spanish proficiency. With regards to the latter, she highlighted the possibility of young people from Jamaica and other Caricom countries travelling to Chile to learn Spanish. She said that Jamaican teachers have gone and continue to travel to Chile to teach English and at the same time learn the Spanish language. She also spoke of exchange programmes dealing with international relations and the Chilean culture.
Meanwhile, President Granger, speaking with reporters before heading off to the bilateral meeting with Bachelet, said the Chilean leader would be officially opening the country’s embassy here in Georgetown and this would concretise the relationship with Caricom.
He pointed out that because Chile has been severely affected by environmental disaster, it would be able to lend expertise not only in disaster management and preparedness but also in terms of climate change.