…President warns Private Sector about dangers of insularity
After signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on energy with Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday, Guyana is hoping to soon sign an economic framework agreement with Barbados.
President David Granger made the disclosure Thursday at the Guyana Marriot Hotel during the opening ceremony for the Guyana Trade and Investment Exhibition (GuyTIE), where he used the opportunity to caution the private sector about the dangers of insularity.
“We hope to conclude, soon, a framework agreement for economic cooperation with Barbados,” the President stated.
According to Granger, “we see Guyana’s future in the Caribbean and we see the Caribbean’s future in Guyana”.
He pointed out 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.
“Our economic interests are intertwined with those of the Region. We shall continue to pursue regional economic cooperation in order to build greater prosperity and global competitiveness,” Granger stated.
Government is facing harsh criticism from some quarters for not putting the issues that affect Guyana in the forefront as matters that needed to be addressed in signing the MoU with Trinidad and Tobago.
There is the belief that the MoU is not reciprocal in that issues of honey transshipped through Trinidad and other matters are still unresolved.
The private sector has also cautioned about the MoU paves the way for possibly a takeover by Trinidad and Tobago businesses in the oil and gas sector.
Granger took aim at the private sector concerns, noting that they have a pivotal roleto play regional economic cooperation.
“The private sector, to fulfill this role, should aim at increasing international trade and at avoiding the dangers of insularity,” Granger noted.
He said 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, Granger said, is the fuel for wealth creation and employment generation.
“The Caribbean, taken as a whole, has the land, labour and capital to overcome its most severe setbacks to achieving food security. There is a need, however, for intensified collaboration between local, regional and international firms to grasp opportunities, which can provide a platform for global market penetration,” Granger stated.
Further, he stated that the Caribbean – in an era of trade wars and Brexit – is an important common market, noting that 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,” Granger stated.
He said intra-regional exports, at the end of 2014, stood at a 13.1% of total regional exports of US$22.3 B. Further, Granger advocated that the region’s estimated US$ 4.5B annual food import bill could be slashed.
“Ten commodities – food preparations, wheat, rice, chicken, non-alcoholic beverages, maize, soybean, sugar and palm oil – account for more than 40 percent of the Region’s food import bill. Stock feed, valued at US$204M, accounts for more than five percent of the bill,” Granger stated.
He noted that Government is obliged to enhance the environment for business development.
According to Granger, 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. These, he noted, have made its economy highly vulnerable to exogenous economic shocks.
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