US $28M to advance food security in the Caribbean

President Ali meets with US VP Harris

His Excellency Dr Irfaan Ali on Thursday announced that Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean will benefit from US$28 million from the United States (US) government.

The investment will support increased food production and agriculture development in the region.

The president made the announcement following a meeting with US Vice President, Kamala Harris, President of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, and other members of the US-CARICOM-Dominican Republic sub-committee on food security and agriculture.

President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali and the United States Vice President Kamala Harris

Guyana currently has the responsibility of chairing the US-CARICOM-Dominican Republic sub-committee on food security and agriculture.

Dr Ali explained that over the past week, there have been 10 meetings of the sub-committee, which is co-chaired by Foreign Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Robert Persaud.

The president also used the meeting as an opportunity to propose a joint approach to ensure regional sustainability in the energy sector, which includes natural gas, fossil fuels, and renewables.

“As you are aware, Barbados, Suriname, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago are key players in the energy sector. I proposed at the meeting that the US engage these countries in an effort to build a sustainable development strategy for energy security—not only for the region, but for the US and for the oil field,” he stated.

An agreement was also made to tackle trade barriers that exist within the region and the US.

We have agreed that we’re going to have a common agenda, in which we will support a common certification programme, sanitary and vital sanitary programme to ensure that we are all operating on the same playing field, and that all the barriers are removed,” the president noted.

The United States Government will also be helping the Caribbean region in advancing its agenda for energy security along with assistance in securing more finance for various projects.

Guyana has been advancing its efforts to reduce the cost of energy by 50 per cent by 2025 through an energy mix of solar, hydro, wind and the use of natural gas.

Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean will also benefit from improved access to finance from the United States, a release from the White House stated. It said the US Administration will continue to work to expand access to U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) financing for private sector-led projects in the Caribbean.

Back in July, Guyana signed a historic US$2 billion Memorandum of Understanding with the EXIM Bank to fund projects in several areas including, infrastructure, energy, telecommunications and agriculture.

Based on the release, the US Treasury Department will intensify its engagement with Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) in Fall 2022, to expand access to development finance for Caribbean countries.

The US Treasury Department is also expected to explore US membership in the Caribbean Development Bank. This includes consultations with the U.S. Congress and discussions with the Office of Management and Budget and consistent with U.S. standards for membership in multilateral development banks, in Fall 2022.

“The U.S. government will elevate engagement with Caribbean nations to improve access to correspondent banking, including by convening a correspondent banking working group in Fall 2022, reestablishing the U.S.-Caribbean Public-Private Bank Dialogue in late 2022/early 2023, and helping Caribbean nations establish a single bank to consolidate cross-border flows across the region,” the release said.

President, Dr Irfaan Ali is currently in the US to participate in several bilateral engagements and address several high-level events, including the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 21, 2022.

He, along with several Caribbean leaders met with United States Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday, a follow-up to the Summit of the Americas held back in June.