Guyana is moving to finalise a framework agreement for economic cooperation with Barbados as part of government’s attempts to pursue economic cooperation in the region to nurture prosperity and global competitiveness, President David Granger said yesterday.
“We see Guyana’s future in the Caribbean and we see the Caribbean’s future in Guyana,” Granger told the audience at the opening of the Guyana Trade and Investment Exposition (GuyTIE) at the Guyana Marriott Hotel.
Granger, who said the agreement may be signed soon, made the announcement only one day after signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley on cooperation in the energy sector and other areas.
Granger stressed that while the Caribbean, taken as a whole, has the land, labour and capital to overcome its most severe challenges to achieving food security, there is a need for intensified collaboration between local, regional and international firms to grasp opportunities, which can provide a platform for global market penetration.
He argued that the private sector has a pivotal role to play in regional economic cooperation and urged that its members aim at increasing international trade and at avoiding the dangers of insularity. “The private sector should aim at increasing investment and at becoming more innovative in pursuing new markets and improving the competitiveness of its goods and services. Investment is the fuel for wealth creation and employment generation,” Granger advised.
GuyTIE, he noted, comes at a time of renewed efforts to re-energise Caribbean economies.
For the president the exhibition, being held under the theme “Made Locally, Trading Globally,” and its objective of promoting export-ready firms and linking them with regional and international businesses are all consistent with the objectives of economic integration in the Caribbean
“We shall continue to pursue regional economic cooperation in order to build greater prosperity and global competiveness. The Caribbean – in an era of trade wars and Brexit – is an important common market…There is huge potential for increased intra-regional trade,” he argued, while adding that intra-regional exports at the end of 2014 stood at a 13.1 % of total regional exports of US$22.3 billion.
“The region’s estimated US$4.5 billion annual food import bill could be slashed… we are on the surge of a rising tide that will deliver transformative economic change. The world-class discoveries of petroleum, made in the maritime space will unleash unprecedented business opportunities. Guyana will soon become the Caribbean’s foremost investment destination. The private sector should aim at building capacity and establishing strategic partnerships to be able to exploit the opportunities, which will flow from the petroleum sector. GuyTIE could enhance Guyana’s investment image as an investor-friendly state,” the President said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin, who also spoke at the opening, noted too that the intention is to use GuyTIE to create a hub for international investment in Guyana.
According to Gaskin, a regularly held GuyTIE is expected to become a signature Caribbean trade fair. “While this year we are focusing on linking Guyanese producers and service providers with international buyers, the longer term vision is to link international exhibitors with international buyers and to create a forum for international trade right here. I want to say to the Private Sector that this is your event and our government will work with you to make it into something we can all be proud of. GuyTIE is not about numbers; is not and was never intended to be a mega event; is not and was never intended to be a consumer event; is not and was never intended to be an entertainment event… it is a business to business event. It is intended to increase value-added production and exports and increase sustainable private sector investment,” he explained.
The exhibition has, therefore, scheduled several seminars to educate businesses in areas of access to several markets, including the US, Canadian and South American markets.
Also speaking at the opening was Private Sector Commission (PSC) Chairman Desmond Sears, who noted that while the PSC welcomes investment, it is a strong advocate for joint ventures in local companies. “Through this mechanism, we feel assured that companies have our country in their interest and it creates avenues for local companies to develop their capacities and adopt new techniques to become more efficient and competitive,” he said. Chairman of the Guyana Office for Investment (GoInvest) Owen Verwey also stressed that GuyTIE is intended to be a business-focused event, with the objectives of connecting producer businesses in Guyana and buyers and partners from international markets.
He explained that there are 56 exhibitors and over 100 registered buyers and potential investors from the Caribbean, US, Canadian, European, South American and Asian markets.
GuyTIE will showcase opportunities for producers and service providers in Guyana, act as a platform for launching new products and provide an opportunity for buyers to consider investing in Guyana or in Guyanese companies to secure supplies, he said, while noting that two or three new products are set to be launched during the exhibition.