The announcement of US Ambassador Perry Holloway that an American Chamber of Commerce is to be set up in Guyana … (SN Jul 12) is music to my ears. For decades, I have advocated for a US-Guyana Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) organization or some similar kind of business association because America has been Guyana’s largest trading partner going back decades and we are very dependent on the US. But I could not find takers among the large business community to launch such an organization with some telling me to start it on my own; I am not a businessperson.
Few businesspersons saw the merit in starting Amcham pointing to the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations or chambers as playing that role. But other business chambers are generalized in nature and not America specific. An American Chamber of Commerce in Guyana is completely different and is required if we are to maximize benefits from the world’s largest economy. An Amcham is specific with regards to all aspects of business involving Guyanese and Americans in each other’s country or elsewhere.
Amcham is not a new idea in our Caribbean region. Neighbouring Trinidad and every major trading bloc or country has the equivalent of an Amcham to boost business relations and investment with the US. In Trinidad, Amcham represents private sector companies, multi-nationals and government enterprises. Companies join and pay a fee. A CEO and a staff are hired to manage the organization and its activities; it has a President chosen by its members. The T&T Amcham has been there (for 25 years) to help with business contacts and opportunities. The body produces regular newsletters and a large magazine describing its activities and business opportunities. I attended several Amchan gatherings in Port of Spain as an observer or reporter. Amcham Trinidad attracts a large membership and turnout at conferences, seminars, symposiums, lectures, membership meetings, social meets, expos and other events. Some of the Who is Who in business in T&T and US attended these meets. Fabulous commercial contacts are made and business growth derived from those business connections. At these gatherings, professionals and business folks were afforded a way to network with each other. Events were packed because people wanted their business to succeed and commercial relations to grow. The US, T&T, and the region benefit from the chamber and its activities.
Major benefits are derived from an Amcham. A Guyana Amcham will help to bring Guyana and the US closer together. It will help to stimulate free and fair trade practices and investment in both and neighbouring countries.
Amcham generally comprises business folks (of all sizes), small staff, and supporters like me who promote the body and look out for the interests of the business community. The body would offer networking and marketing opportunities. Its events will allow members to socialize or chit- chat and expand business. Because America is a large market and with countless companies doing business with other countries, Guyanese businesses may be able to capitalize on marketing opportunities outside of Guyana and America.
When launched, businesses should consider joining it as the body will be a great investment for business profitability and growth. As in Trinidad, Guyana Amcham should consider hosting seminars and workshops designed to help entrepreneurs grow their business and host regular events to bring businesses together to chit-chat over opportunities.
Thank you Ambassador Holloway for this announcement. Amcham Guyana is a splendid idea whose time has come. I can see it being an important source for quality business information and analysis and providing contacts to grow a business. Among some other benefits I see are: playing an important role in Guyana’s economy; bringing the two countries together; generating tens of billions of Guyana dollars in business; creating jobs; promoting business and national economic growths;, building economic partnerships, interacting with decision makers in Guyana and America; gaining a voice in government; influencing the policy agenda in Guyana; creating dialogues; boosting business profits; setting the agenda for trade and business; and more.
Separately, in his excellent speech, in which he made reference to several ghosts hurting Guyana, let me point out that the Ambassador (inadvertently) left out our beautiful diversified “Mixed” population that is also a part of our ethnic fabric. They make up almost a fifth of the total population and have an important role to play in wiping out some of the ghosts that prevent development in our country. I endorse the Ambassador’s appeal for an end to ethnic division. It is the biggest ghost in the country. The population should chastise and chase public figures that prey on ethnic division.
Dr. Vishnu Bisram