As Guyana and Canada seek to further strengthen bilateral ties, the two countries already share a strong trade relationship, with the North American nation importing nearly 200 million Canadian dollars in merchandise from Guyana last year alone.
This was revealed by Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Mark Berman on Wednesday at a reception held to celebrate Canada Day in Georgetown.
According to High Commissioner Berman, Canada has already invested millions of dollars in various programmes and initiatives here including the COVID-19 response, judicial strengthening, human rights issues, and migrants support.
Going forward, the Canadian diplomat said he was seeking to advance cooperation in the areas of climate change, food security, and business and investment, including diversifying trade relations.
“With respect to trade in 2021, Canada-Guyana merchandise trade totalled CA$238.2 million with CA$199.6 million being imports from Guyana. Canada is committed to diversifying our trade relationship in order to contribute to rebuilding the global economy in a way that is resilient, inclusive, and sustainable while being a reliable partner for business and investment,” he stated.
The High Commissioner noted that the next steps in strengthening the bilateral trade and investment relationship between Canada and Guyana were established back in April when Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business & Economic Development, Mary Ng visited this country.
During that time, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed to facilitate the transfer of Canadian technology and expertise to Guyana as the country invests in the infrastructure, information and communication technologies, aerospace, clean tech, and security sectors.
The MoU further establishes a framework under which the two countries can strengthen their economic and commercial relations that will see more Canadians doing business in Guyana and Guyanese businesses investing in Canada.
In fact, High Commissioner Berman posited that interest from Canadian investors in Guyana is at an all-time high.
“Canada has been a leading trade partner in Guyana for many, many years, and we’re proud of the continuous growth of our relationship. The establishment of the Canada-Guyana Chamber of Commerce has played a significant role in strengthening that relationship.
“I recently spent a number of weeks in Canada travelling from [almost] coast to coast, from Newfoundland to Calgary to Toronto… and had an opportunity and the privilege to talk about opportunities in Guyana to a very interested Canadian Private Sector. And we look forward to the results of those discussions,” he noted.
Meanwhile, President Dr Irfaan Ali extended a welcoming hand to the Private Sector of Canada, noting the great role it plays in Guyana. In fact, the Head of State lauded the contributions Canada has made towards the development of Guyana over the past years, calling the North American nation an outstanding global citizen.
“Canada has also contributed significantly to Guyana in many, many ways. You are home to many Guyanese. We have a huge Diaspora living in Canada and because of your hospitality, and of your openness, you have allowed those Guyanese who left here under difficult circumstances to enjoy a quality of life and a style of life that allowed them also to help their families back home,” he stated.
According to the Guyanese Leader, beyond Guyana, Canada has also played a major role within the Caribbean region.
“We take this relationship in the context of Caricom (Caribbean Community) very seriously… We share with you the principles of building the regional relationship. That is why we’ve played and continue to play a strong role in CARICOM and in expanding our relationship with Canada as a region, not only at the trade level, not only at the developmental level but importantly at the policy coordination [level]. We have been working with you at the national level and at the regional level to coordinate our approaches on many different issues,” the Head of State said.
Moving forward, President Ali outlined that the two countries needed to work on a serious and calculated way of finding innovative mechanisms and a modern policymaking environment to further strengthen and advance shared principles. This, he contended, is particularly important in areas such as electoral and judicial reforms that require modern approaches.
Further, the Guyanese Leader expressed his interest in having strong conversations in developing a new trade agreement between Guyana and Canada to reflect the changing environment they operate in as well as the changing circumstances of the two countries.
Additionally, President Ali outlined the need for the hemispheric neighbours to also re-evaluate their people-to-people contact, noting that the Guyana Government has initiated discussions at every level to reduce the bottlenecks to free movement of people.
“I believe strongly that there are countries in the hemisphere that are very important to Guyana’s development and those relationships need to be accelerated, strengthened, and to have more robust testing, and that testing can only come through our common agreement to set ourselves a target, to set ourselves missions that will bring direct benefit to the countries and our people. So, as you celebrate today, you can celebrate with great pride that Canada is an outstanding global citizen… Canada continues to be a leading example in many areas,” the President stated.