Georgetown, Guyana – The Florida headquartered Guyanese American Chamber of Commerce (GACC) is of the view that Guyana can benefit tremendously from the presence of a World Trade Center (WTC) and has initiated efforts aimed at having a WTC set up in Guyana before the end of 2020.
To this end, the GACC invited Mr. John Dickson, president of the World Trade Development Group to visit Guyana to sensitize Guyanese government and private sector officials to the vital role of World Trade Center’s play in the promotion and realization of trade and investment in the economies of cities and countries, especially for the benefit of small and medium size enterprises.
There are more than 300 World Trade Centers in over 100 countries around the world.
Mr. Dickson is currently in Guyana and has held discussions about the benefits that could accrue to Guyanese enterprises through the establishment of a WTC here.
He has had meetings with Minister of Natural Resources Rafael Trotman, Foreign Secretary Carl Greenidge, Special Political Adviser to the President Dr. Mark Kirton and Dr. Peter Ramsaroop, an economic adviser to the Leader of the Opposition.
On the private sector side, he has met with Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) Chairman Komal Samaroo and Dr. Yesu Persaud, chairman of Demerara Bank; members of the council of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) led by its chairman, Capt. Gerry Gouveia and other businesspersons from the construction, real estate development and tourism sectors.
He also met with Professor Leyland Lucas, Dean of the School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation at the University of Guyana and US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch.
“Guyana has now emerged as a major player in global business with its oil and gas discoveries. Oil can be a curse if not managed well and an important requirement is that resources be directed to other sectors like manufacturing, especially light manufacturing, agriculture and agribusiness, tourism and the creative industries, among others. These are sectors that offer opportunities for small and medium size enterprises to develop and here is where a World Trade Center in Guyana can be used as a tool to help these enterprises grow through the creation of linkages to assist with market access,” Mr. Dickson said during his meetings.
He pointed out that the World Trade Center Association (WTCA) does not license a center in a city and country based merely on the financial capacity of the licensee but takes into account the reputation, global reach and capacity to fashion a menu of programs and activities relative to the needs of the economy and its small and medium size enterprises.
Among the critical activities of a center, he pointed out should be hands on training for business students and small entrepreneurs, the provision and explanation of laws and regulations and the hosting of incubation workshops.
“I am very impressed with the people with whom I have interacted and am thankful to the Guyanese American Chamber for having invited me and for the meetings it has arranged. Guyana has leaped frogged onto the global business stage and it is important that the opportunities be taken advantage of for all sections of the society. The big businesses really don’t need the tools which a world trade center provide. They already have within them various departments that take care of what they need. But they can play a part in helping to grow the small businesses and so I am happy that a Guyanese company like DDL that is a player in the global marketplace is interested in taking the lead to have a WTC set up in Guyana. DDL is to submit its letter of interest to the WTCA on Monday,” Dickson disclosed in his meeting with Foreign Secretary Carl Greenidge Friday evening.
And speaking at a reception hosted Friday night by Wesley Kirton, president of the GACC, Dickson explained that while governments are not usually license holders, they need to provide a letter of support for the center.
“From my interactions with both government officials and Dr. Ramsaroop I am comfortable that whichever political party forms the government following the upcoming elections, that government would support a WTC in Guyana,” Dickson, who is also the World Trade Center Association’s founding chairman of its Committee on Peace and Stability through Trade, told guests at the reception.
Dickson has personally spearheaded the efforts to have set up a WTC in Afghanistan and more recently in Khurdistan, Iraq where construction was completed just weeks ago. He said that notwithstanding that this is an election season in Guyana and the campaigns seem quite robust, Guyanese of all ethnic origins are living in harmony and that is a quality the nation should be proud of.
“When there is so much conflict in the world, I was able to see Guyanese living and working together peacefully. I visited Bourda market and there were people of different ethnic origins doing business with each other. Guyana can be an example to the rest of the world,” Dickson said.
He said his interest in Guyana was heightened last October when he interacted with more than 20 small and medium sized enterprises, many women owned, who had traveled to the US for the Florida International Trade Conference and Expo (FITCE) and with officials from the Guyanese American Chamber including Mr. Kirton, the Chamber’s Chairman Mr. Mohamed Omar and Secretary Ms. Melinda Gordon who is also currently visiting Guyana.