Guyana benefits from PM’s diplomacy travels

DPI, GUYANA, Saturday, November 4, 2017
Since coming to office in 2015, the Coalition Government, through the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), has invested close to $20M towards strengthening the country’s diplomatic and bilateral relations with friendly nations across the world.
Despite the opposition’s claims of wanton waste regarding the monies spent on overseas travel for Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and other state officials over  the period October 2015 to July 2017, the government is maintaining that it is monies well spent, since the nation has been able to strengthen its diplomatic relationships across the globe, established new trade agreements and maintain a high profile within major international entities.
OPM has released it’s response to questions raised, nothing that, “unlike the wanton waste and squandermania which took place under the previous administration… except where required by Government to do otherwise, the Honourable Prime Minister has made it a matter of principle to participate only in overseas events where air fares and accommodation are provided partially or fully by the sponsors.” The response noted, PM’s travels were key to the country’s participation in state events abroad that were key to Guyana maintaining its national sovereignty and territorial integrity. They were also critical from a business and investment standpoint.

One such instance was Guyana’s participation at the Summit of Open Governance Partnership (OGP), Mexico City, Mexico, during October 25 -29, 2015 to which a team consisting of Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman and Coordinator of the Department of Governance, Tamara Evelyn Khan was led by Prime Minister Nagamootoo. Following initial discussions, a trade agreement for the sale of Guyana’s rice to Mexico was forged.
To date some 70,000 tonnes of paddy have been shipped to Mexico, representing one-tenth of Guyana’s total production.
In addition to forging a new rice deal with Mexico, the Prime Minister used the opportunity to expose Venezuela for imposing the then trade embargo against Guyana in furtherance of the false claim to our territory, the response noted.
Under the PetroCaribe agreement, Guyana supplied rice to neighbouring Venezuela, but before that deal came to an end, Venezuela in July 2015 issued a directive for Guyana to cease all paddy and rice shipments, in wake of Exxon Mobil’s significant oil discovery offshore Guyana.
Noteworthy, Prime Minister Nagamootoo was able to forge an agreement with the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) for scholarships to Guyanese in petroleum engineering. IPN committed to a monthly stipend of US$1,000 for each Guyanese student who would take up scholarships. Guyanese students have since taken up places at the Institute.

The paddy that was exported to Mexico, being loaded on the ship

Mexico also assured technical support for Guyana’s legal framework and disaster reduction for the oil and gas industry and a high-level delegation has since visited Guyana.
During September 30th to October 10, 2016, the PM attended, as Chief Guest, the (a) World Tamils Economic Conference (b) Convocation Ceremony of the Bharat University in Chennai, Tamil Nadu; and (c) Delhi Law Society’s Conference on Environmental Law in Delhi, India.
OPM expressed that, at all functions, the Prime Minister described the strategic location of Guyana as a Caribbean and South American state, and outlined business opportunities and incentives available for investors in the sub-region: Guyana, Trinidad and Suriname. Guyana has since received expressions of interest from Indian investors in the sugar industry, aquaculture, agro-processing and granite production.
Also during the years 2015 – 2017 the PM attended Argentina’s Presidential Inaugural Ceremony, Buenos Aires, Argentine during December 9-12, 2015, the Mercosur Summit, Asuncion, Paraguay during December 19-21, 2015, the launch of Golden Jubilee Independence Anniversary of Guyana, Queens, New York during January 15-18, 2016, the 27th Anniversary celebrations of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) and Global Convention, New York during June 24-26, 2016 and the  State Funeral for Hon. Patrick Manning, late Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad &Tobago, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, July 2016 all in keeping with strengthening international relationships, maintenance of contact with Guyanese in the diaspora and international protocol.
The 17th International Conference of Chief Justices and Judges was also attended by Prime Minister Nagamootoo in Lucknow, Utter Pradesh, India from 11th to 14th November, 2016.The Honourable Prime Minister was Chief Guest at the Conference, and was invited to make several addresses. He spoke to the issue of the Rule of Law and respect for international law and placed therein, the government of Guyana’s stance which calls for a judicial settlement of Venezuela’s contention that the 1899 arbitral award is void.
To date, the issue surrounding the Guyana-Venezuela controversy issue is being discussed at the level of the Good Offices Process through the Personal Representative of the Secretary General Norwegian Diplomat Dag Nylander, with the hope of reaching a resolution by the end of this year.
The PM was also in attendance at funeral ceremony for Fidel Castro Ruz, late President of the Republic of Cuba, Havana, Cuba, November 29 to December 1, 2016. He was Guest of Honour at the Indian Diaspora World Convention on 100th year of abolition of Indian Indentureship, Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago, March 2017 and at the 100th Anniversary Festival to mark an end to Indian Indentureship, Capesterre Belle-Eau, Guadeloupe 19th -22nd May, 2017. The latter event which was organised by the Guadeloupe Chapter of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) saw Guyana having  greater exposure in the French West Indies, where there are many buyers interested in Guyanese handicrafts, and  tourism.
The Convention of the Federation of Tamil Organisations of North America was held in Minneapolis Minnesota, USA, during June to 3 July, 2017. The PM attended as a Special Guest to this Business Convention which attracted some 3,000 business executives, artists, eminent scholars, legislators from Canada and USA, etc.

By: Stacy Carmichael

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