‘Private sector has a pivotal role to play regional economic cooperation’

President Granger at opening of GuyTIE 

Georgetown, Guyana – (September 20, 2018) President David Granger, this morning, said that the private sector has a critical role to play in regional economic integration as he noted that the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) is the way to build more resilient economies, not only in the Caribbean but also in Guyana.

The Head of State was at the time speaking at the opening of the Guyana Trade and Investment Exhibition, being held at the Marriott Hotel Guyana.

He said Guyana’s economic development has been constrained, historically, by the small size of its population, small domestic markets and the small range and volume of primary commodity exports and these have made the country’s economy highly vulnerable to exogenous economic shocks. He noted that the CSME aims, in the long-term, to create a single economic space with an enlarged market producing globally competitive goods and services and this can therefore serve as an impetus to trade and cooperation within the region.

“Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, 24 hours ago, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote economic cooperation. We hope to conclude, soon, a framework agreement for economic cooperation with Barbados. We see Guyana’s future in the Caribbean and we see the Caribbean’s future in Guyana. The private sector has a pivotal role to play regional economic cooperation. The private sector, to fulfill this role, should 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,” President Granger said.

President Granger noted that GuyTIE comes at a time of renewed efforts to re-energise Caribbean economies. He said that the exhibition’s 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. The combined land space of the countries of the Caribbean Community is almost equivalent to that of Sweden. There is huge potential for increased intra-regional trade.  Intra-regional exports, at the end of 2014, stood at a 13.1 per cent of total regional exports of US$22.3 B. The Region’s estimated US$ 4.5B annual food import bill could be slashed.  The Caribbean, taken as a whole, has the land, labour and capital to overcome its most severe setbacks to achieving food security,” he stated.

President Granger noted too the need for intensified collaboration between local, regional and international firms to grasp opportunities, which can provide a platform for global market penetration.

In this regard, he said the Government is obliged to enhance the environment for business development and has been doing so by emphasizing education so as to ensure suitable and adequate skills for development; enhancing the country’s physical infrastructure and energy security; and ensuring policies, laws and regulations which promote ease-of-doing business and fairer competition.

Meanwhile, President Granger said that the Trade and Investment Exhibition is a welcome development and will serve as a platform for local businesses to engage and network within regional and international investors.

“It has been said: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. 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.

President of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Mr. Desmond Sears said the Government must indeed be commended for working with the Private Sector and for its efforts in promoting investments in Guyana.

“I am very excited for Guyana and with the projected increase in jobs, investments and oil revenues; Guyana will definitely become the place you would want to invest. Government is making strides to encourage investment and we must thank the Ministry of Business…These are the exhibitions we need to promote Guyana and I am very happy that the Ministry of Business is continuing this event. While there are challenges in the region, Guyana remains steadfast as an investor’s choice,” Sears said.

He also shared the view that GuyTIE is both timely and important especially for Guyanese businesses seeking export markets.

“I must commend the Ministry of Business for conceptualising this event. I am very optimistic that this forum will only pay greater dividends in the future. Our Republic, in my view, is an investment paradise. I am sure you have heard this before but Guyana is truly endowed with all the natural resources one can think about that is used in production,” the President of the PSC said.

Minister of Business, Mr. Dominic Gaskin said that GuyTIE is a pilot event which the Ministry expects will be held regularly and will eventually, 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 in Guyana. 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 and ticket sales. It was never meant to be a mega event. It is not and never intended to be a consumer or entertainment event. It is strictly business to business event. It is to increase value added production and exports and to increase sustainable private sector investments. The long-term goal is the diversification of and increase in Guyana’s exports and GUYTIE supports this by providing a local platform for international trade,” Gaskin said.

The Minister of Business noted too that the event will also feature several seminars aimed at capacity building particularly in the areas of access to international markets, especially the United States, Canadian and Latin America as well as experience sharing sessions.

Additionally, Chairman of the Guyana Office for Investment (GoInvest) and GuyTIE, Mr. Owen Verwey said the event features 56 exhibitors and over 100 registered buyers and potential investors who have already arrived in Guyana.

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