…growth will be determined by recovery from global financial crisis
The forestry sector in Guyana has had a very challenging year and adding to that is the rippling effects of the current financial crisis.
Several countries, particularly Canada, are facing severe hardships in this sector as a result of the global financial crisis.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Office for Investment (Go Invest), Geoffrey Da Silva, has said that if this year is compared with last year the export revenue and production is less.
According to him, in the years prior to 2008 the sector was growing significantly in terms of production and export revenue. That has fallen out this year.
Da Silva noted that some may think this to be bad but he opined that it was a necessary step to provide the opportunity to look at the sector and where it is going and also to make any necessary adjustments.
He contended that growth in this industry will be tempered by the situation in the international market.
“So it is not a signal that forestry or the wood products sector is going to decline. That is not the case…It will pick up significantly next year but of course again tempered by the international market and how fast the recovery will be in the United States and Asia.”
According to Da Silva, Guyana continues to facilitate both local and foreign projects, most of them small and medium, in the woods sector.
“Every month we are facilitating quite a number of wood projects. So people see the opportunities not just for the short term but for the medium and long terms in that sector.”
He stated that while there are going to be some challenges in some of the markets, one of the things in the forestry sector apart from the logs is that more and more companies are starting to do value added products like flooring.
“If they are high-end products they might not face so much of a decline, meaning that the buyers or customers will have a little more money than the normal consumer so that is one of the key things that we are looking at too.”
Meanwhile, another extracting industry, mining, has continued to grow but some major projects will take longer to get off the ground due to the global crisis.
Da Silva said that there are indications that a very large foreign-owned project should begin soon with Guyanese partners in the gold sector.
“We are seeing now that some companies have found platinum; we just had the signing with regards to the Bosai project for alumina, and Rusal is considering where they are going to go…”
He noted that some of these projects may see a longer gestation period because of the crisis in the United States, but these companies are determined and serious about these projects.
“So while it may take longer to get these projects off the ground, they are going to happen,” Da Silva stated.
He also said that the rice sector has been expanding while the sugar industry is facing some challenges.
However, he said that they are facilitating a number of private Guyanese sugarcane farmers and are hoping that over the next two years they will get to a level where these private farmers can be regularly suppliers to the Skeldon Plant.
The global financial crisis, brewing for a while, really started to show its effects in the middle of this year.
The world stock markets have fallen; large financial institutions have collapsed or have been bought out, and governments in even the wealthiest nations have had to come up with rescue packages to bail out their financial systems.
A global financial meltdown will affect the livelihoods of almost everyone in an increasingly inter-connected world.
Guyana has felt sparse direct impact of the crisis but from all indications several industries are going to be, if it has not happened already, affected indirectly.
Some developed countries have been affected tremendously.
It was reported in the Canada press in October that the current economic turbulence may cause the death of Canada’s forestry industry, and the federal government is doing nothing to prevent it.
It added that in the first six months of 2008, the forestry industry lost C’dn$1.2 billion, according to CEP and for next year, several companies will have to refinance large debts, including Montreal-based AbitibiBowater and Richmond, B.C.-based Catalyst Paper.
The global economic crisis, driven by falling markets stemming from the bust in the housing market in the U.S., should propel the Canadian government to step in before the forestry industry collapses.
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