In the age of globalization, technology and a chaotic social-media world, Guyana has to take steps to protect its image and reputation by adopting a foreign policy to advance its economic and political interests overseas.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Guyana had a stellar foreign policy at the United Nations (UN) and during its participation in the Non-Aligned Movement. Regionally, Guyana championed the cause for free trade in the Caribbean with the creation of CARIFTA in 1965, which subsequently became CARICOM in 1973.
Foreign policy is a strategy or policy implemented by governments to protect its national interest. It sets guidelines on how a particular country deals with other countries in various areas, including trade and economics, immigration, and law enforcement, among others.
Foreign policy dictates how a country will act with respect to other countries politically, socially, economically, and militarily, and to a somewhat lesser extent, how it behaves towards non-state actors. In this context, Guyana should formulate a foreign policy for purposes of peaceful and beneficial cooperation.
With globalization, the world has become smaller and more interconnected. Most countries have made changes to their foreign policy that allows their ambassadors/high commissioners and other diplomats to interact strategically in the areas of trade, commerce, finance and economics with other countries. In the past, this was not allowed due to the fact that the interaction of diplomats was based on strict protocol. They were not to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations. Today, that has changed. The United States, Canada and British diplomats have intervened on several policy issues in Guyana.
Guyana’s foreign policy was soundly hatched under the leadership of the late Forbes Burnham in terms of trade, commerce and economic development. Today, the world has changed dramatically but our foreign policy has not changed. It remains inward looking and not about what is happening externally.
Guyana needs strong leaders with conviction to change our archaic foreign policy to adapt to the changing circumstances on the world stage.
We need a government that would seek partnerships for trade and investment and assistance in the border controversy with Venezuela. We do not need a foreign policy that is akin to a particular ideology, but one that is flexible and adaptable to serving Guyana’s best interests. Neither do we need a government that would allow ExxonMobil, Aurora Gold and other conglomerates to rape and pauperize the country.
As such, our current foreign policy positions need to be reviewed and the traditional role of our ambassadors/high commissioners must be reassessed to support our best interest. The government must conceptualize a grand foreign policy strategy to support the economic advancement of the country.
To achieve such goals, changes must be made to the job description of our diplomats who for decades have been preoccupied with task of signing passports forms and attend ceremonial functions in the countries to which they are posted. It is time for them to mingle with the political, economic and the business communities wherever they may be in order to help establish trade deals and encourage foreign investors to Guyana.
The government continues to spend hundreds of millions of dollars per year to pay, transport, house and provide medical benefits to our diplomats who must do more than perform ceremonial functions and enjoy a mighty good living. Guyana needs leaders who understand the importance of foreign policy and who are capable of making changes.
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