A firm contractual agreement between the state-run Cuban entity Alimport and the local rice milling giant Nand Persaud and Company paving the way for the imminent commencement of rice exports from Guyana to Cuba has now been signed and sealed, bringing to an end months of negotiations; a new chapter in trade relations between the two countries is on the horizon.
Stabroek Business was reliably informed late last week that the contract was formally executed on Monday, July 24, in Havana bringing to a close a period of negotiations in which the Guyana Embassy in Cuba played an important role.
This newspaper has learnt that a full and final agreement preceding the commencement of rice shipments to Cuba from Guyana was signed recently in Havana by Nand Persaud and Company’s Business Development and Export Manager Ashish Khandge, and that shipments to Cuba will commence next month.
The new external rice market acquisition by a local company will see the first shipment of locally produced rice, totalling 15,000 tonnes leave Guyana for Cuba. Stabroek Business understands that Nand Persaud & Company Limited will continue to supply rice to Cuba in 2018, lending continuity to its longer-term objective of meeting all of Cuba’s rice import needs. In pursuit of realization of that objective the local private sector, with the support of the Guyana Embassy in Havana, is reportedly in the process of drawing up an investment proposal with Cuba that will set into motion the setting up of a rice-milling plant and warehouse in the Port Mariel Free Zone that will significantly increase Nand Persaud’s rice exports to that country beyond the levels that have been agreed under the recently signed agreement.
There is a twofold significance in the full and final conclusion of the rice agreement with Cuba. The first reposes in the major breakthrough in Guyana’s pursuit of efforts to secure new rice markets in the wake of the closure of the market from which the local industry had benefited under the now expired PetroCaribe agreement. The second significant thing is that for Guyana, the support lent to the new rice agreement by the country’s diplomatic mission in Havana will also be seen as a practical manifestation of the aggressive pursuit of economic diplomacy which government says will be at the forefront of its foreign policy.
Guyana’s Ambassador to Cuba Halim Majeed has reiterated to this newspaper the importance of the economic diplomacy focus of the Guyana Embassy in Havana at a time when the ‘traffic’ from Georgetown to Havana associated with the strengthening of business ties has been increasing. This, he said, had been underscored by visits to Havana by various private sector officials with varied business interests and by Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin during this year.
At the end of June, the Stabroek Business had reported that Guyana was one of a number of Caricom countries that had been assertively seeking to strengthen trade and economic ties with Cuba in the wake of indications that the country is in the throes of liberalization.
This newspaper had earlier reported that Cuba was anticipating rice shipments from Guyana totalling 73,000 metric tonnes for the remainder of 2017, as well as a longer-term arrangement that involved the proposed Port Mariel operation and could see more than 400,000 tonnes of rice being exported to Cuba and other hemispheric markets.