– Nand Persaud cops GMSA’s export award
Last year, Guyana’s exports to the United States totaled almost US$300M with imports just about US$10M less.
This was disclosed by US Ambassador to Guyana, D. Brent Hardt, during last Friday’s 16th Annual Awards Presentation and Dinner hosted by Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) at the Princess Hotel, Providence.
Ambassador Hardt also served up a four-part menu of measures which he said had been identified by US President Barack Obama to build strong partnerships with governments, business communities and civil societies in the Caribbean region.
The measures have been tailored to: expand economic opportunities in Guyana; strengthen safety and security measures and improve public health and strengthen democratic governance.
In 2010, according to the Ambassador, Guyana traded more with the USA than with any other country in the world, exporting some US$298.6M worth of goods while importing US$290.4M in US goods.
Statistics for 2011 already indicate that trade values will likely surpass the 2010 values the Ambassador said, declaring that “This is good news”.
Goods exported to the US including sugar, seafoods, fruit, plantains and other agricultural products, enjoy duty-free access under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Agreement. This agreement was extended last year 2020.
The envoy was at the time addressing owners and executives of several manufacturing entities. Present were Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and GMSA’s President Clinton Williams.
The Ambassador noted that there is ample evidence that Guyanese and American private businesses are already partnering productively, citing the presence of Atlantic Tele-Network (part owner of GT&T), Seaboard Corporation (owner of NAMILCO) and Delta Airlines along with the Pizza Hut, United Parcel Services and Federal Express franchises.
There are programmes already in place to boost Guyana’s exports to the US, prime among which is the USAID’s Guyana Trade and Investment Support (GTIS) project that is collaborating with local businesses to open up new opportunities for goods and services in non-traditional agriculture, eco-tourism and wood products.
GTIS, he said, is utilizing technology to create direct linkages with farmers and large scale producers and to help transfer such new-age technologies as drip irrigation and greenhouse farming. The ultimate goal is export of high-quality, GlobalCap certified fruits, vegetables and tilapia to Caribbean and U.S. markets.
Promotion of Guyana’s tourism product, eco-tourism, also ranks high on the United States’ agenda.
Ambassador Hardt indicated that efforts are being made to help attract high-end visitors to enjoy the ‘fantastic diversity’ of Guyana’s wildlife, for bird watching and sport fishing.
“Only last week USAID invited a group of sport fishing enthusiasts with film crews for a guided tour of Guyana’s interior (regions),” the Head of Mission said, adding that Guyana is clearly emerging as an attractive eco-tour destination.
In addition, the U.S. government is very supportive of Guyana’s efforts to sustainably manage our rainforests and protect the Guiana Shield. The objective is to help the Guyana government develop a more comprehensive Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system, a National Forest Inventory and other specialized means of registering carbon capture in order to adhere more closely to REDD+ targets.
The anticipated development of a viable hydrocarbon industry in Guyana also forms part of the US menu of measures for Guyana’s development. The ground is already being prepared for new regulations and policies to govern the impending oil and gas sector and its downstream industries, and the US has committed to partnering with relevant authorities to prepare the nation for its sustainable development. Technical Assistance will come from the US Energy Governance Capacity Initiative (EGCI) to support industry oversight and oil revenue management in order to ensure that “oil wealth achieves broad-based economic growth and prosperity,” the Ambassador noted.
On the volatile subject of national security, Ambassador Hardt noted that Guyana and the Caribbean are facing a common challenge from widespread criminal activities that have become transnational.
The core objectives, he noted, are reduction of illicit trafficking, improving public safety and promoting social justice.
“We can only succeed in this task by working closely together and adopting a comprehensive approach to strengthening maritime interdiction capabilities, professionalizing law enforcement agencies and limiting the appeal of ‘fast money’ by providing new opportunities for at-risk youths.”
The United States has provided US$139M over the first two years of a special regional security programme and the Obama administration has committed to continued involvement in this process.
The US intends to provide the Guyana Defence Force with riverain patrol vessels and communication equipment, the Guyana Police Force with anti-corruption training and ICT technology to share ballistics and fingerprint information, and the justice system with technical expertise to address critical crime issues, among other related interventions.
The Ambassador said that consultations have already been held with stakeholders on strengthening money laundering prosecutions and general legal reform.
The third agenda item on the US-menu for Guyana concerns Public Health, to which the US government has been contributing since 2004. The national HIV/AIDS testing and prevention programme has already benefited from an infusion of US$145M from the United States, and the significant reduction in Guyana’s prevalency rate of 2.5 percent in 2003 to an estimated 1.2 percent today stands as testimony to the success of the wide ranging programme.
Part of the funds, according to the envoy, went towards enhancing the capacities of the Ministry of Health’s laboratories and management of general health services countrywide.
The programme was implemented through the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which currently funds more than 136 positions in the Ministry of Health, the US Peace Corps Volunteers and Department of Defense.
DEMOCRACY AND GOVERNANCE
The ‘dessert course’ on the menu of measures, according to the Ambassador, is the partnership for democracy and governance. He complimented the nation for setting ‘worthy standards’ for the conduct of peaceful elections this year and declared that his government stands ready to work with the newly-elected Guyanese government, with GECOM and civil society groups especially in support of local government elections.
Laparkan’s Shipping’s Manager Oscar Philips was presented with GMSA’s Lifetime Award.
The President’s Award for Export Achievement went to Mohin Persaud of Nand Persaud Company Limited.
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