FORT LAUDERDALE – Guyana is poised to become the Dubai of the Caribbean if revenues to be derived from its newly discovered oil reserves are effectively managed and prudently invested and the potential for large scale agribusiness, tourism and infrastructure development is aggressively pursued.
That was the message delivered by President of the Guyanese American Chamber of Commerce (GACC) Wesley Kirton to participants at an international business conference held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on Friday (May 4th) with the theme ‘Opportunity Has No Boundaries’. Organized by Broward County’s Office of Economic and Small Business Development as part of World Trade Month and National Small Business Week activities, the conference attracted more than 600 international business executives, entrepreneurs, government functionaries, elected officials and diplomats.
In his presentation on ‘Doing Business with Guyana,’ Kirton outlined a number of trade and investment opportunities as well as incentives which the South America located Caribbean Community(CARICOM) member state offers to investors. But he warned that companies wanting to do business with Guyana must be prepared to be fair and honest in their negotiations and to be good corporate citizens.
“I know many of you have been following news reports that suggest that successive Guyana governments have been weak in their negotiations with the major oil company exploring in Guyana and that the government has given away the store so to speak. Well I should let you know that Guyana is fair and realistic in its negotiations with local and foreign investors alike, but you should not for one moment mistake fairness for weakness.
“And while I do not speak on behalf of the Government of Guyana I could safely offer you the assurance that the current and any future governments of Guyana will respect any agreements into which you enter with the State. I must caution however against entering into any corrupt transaction with individuals in the government and/or private sector. I am sure most of you are signatories to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act here in the US or at least are familiar with the severe penalties for graft, money laundering and other forms of corruption,” Kirton pointed out. He urged that companies do effective due diligence before choosing local joint venture partners.
Describing Guyana as an emerging economy ripe for investment in agribusiness, green energy, tourism, the creative industries and information technology among others, Kirton said that the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is expected to jump from 3.5 per cent in 2016 to 38.5 per cent in 2021. GDP in 2016 was US $3.4 billion. Over the next two decades GDP is expected to jump to 68 billion US dollars.
“Guyana will be transformed to become perhaps the Dubai of the Caribbean. Disposable incomes will increase astronomically thereby providing for all Guyanese to purchase more goods and services and enjoy a better life,” he said.
The chamber president also spoke of the trade and partial scope agreements which Guyana has in place with the US, Canada, Brazil, the European Union and CARICOM which provide for special treatment for the entry of goods from Guyana.
Davis Wolf, International Business Manager of Core & Main, one of the major US suppliers of waterworks products globally and which received an award at the conference spoke of his recent visit to Guyana where he said that through the assistance of the Broward County of Economic Development , the Commercial Section of the US Embassy and the Guyanese American Chamber of Commerce his company was able to have consultations with leading government and private sector officials.
Impressed with the comparative ease so far of doing business with Guyana, Wolf announced during his presentation at the conference that Core & Main will host a fully funded three -day workshop in Guyana for Guyanese stakeholders in July.