Guyana, UK discuss future investment opportunities

Senior Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh in discussion with the visiting UKEF officials and British High Commissioner Jane Miller on Wednesday

As Guyana continues on its unprecedented development trajectory, discussions were held with officials from the United Kingdom on future investment opportunities by UK Export Finance (UKEF) here.

The meeting was held on Wednesday between Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, and British High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller, along with two officials from UKEF – Regional Head for Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Americas, Rose Trigg, and Business Manager, Civil, Infrastructure & Energy, Simon Bunckenburg.

Other officials from the Finance Ministry also joined the meeting.

“The meeting also allowed for further discussions surrounding the possibility of future investment opportunities by UKEF in Guyana, as the country continues on its rapid development trajectory in both the public and private sectors,” the ministry said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

However, the missive noted that the essence of Wednesday’s engagement was a follow-up to the partnership established between the government and UKEF for the construction of the EUR$149 million new state-of-the-art Pediatric and Maternal hospital at Ogle, East Coast Demerara.

The hospital is being built with financial support from UK Export Finance, the UK’s export credit agency and is the first UKEF-supported project ever done in Guyana. The facility will be constructed by VAMED, an Austria-based company that is a global provider of hospitals and other facilities in the healthcare sector.

In July, President Dr Irfaan Ali along with other officials turned the sod for the two-year construction of the medical facility.

The low-rise Pediatric and Maternal Hospital will have 256 beds and will be a referral centre for women and children. It will specialize in maternal, neonatal, and pediatric care with a huge imaging suite for services such as CT scans and MRIs, a modern laboratory, and surgical suites.

During his address at the sod-turning, President Ali noted that this hospital is a demonstration of the relations established between the two nations, adding that Guyana intends to further strengthen and capitalise on this tie with the European country.

In fact, just last month, the Guyanese Head of State pointed out that Guyana will now seek more financing from the UK for transformative infrastructural projects here after the British Government announced visa-free travel for Guyanese.

“The idea of this visa waiver for visitors is not only about strengthening the relationship and building out the expansion of the economic opportunities between Guyana and the UK… These days, it is getting very complex to finance the market, especially with the volatility that exists. And we are pursuing very, very strong terms in favour of Guyana, fixed-rate financing and less than three percent, and that is how we have been pushing for financing. It is difficult to achieve in this market but we are still pursuing this,” he stated.

President Ali emphasised the economic potential of Guyana and spoke extensively about opportunities in the infrastructure, tourism, and other sectors with significant development potential. He added that visa-wavier will open up immense opportunities, not only for infrastructure and economic activities as a result of trade, but also for Guyana as a hub to serve the region.

Meanwhile, High Commissioner Miller noted that the visa lift is a real sign of the confidence that the UK has in Guyana. In fact, she had revealed that in mid-November, a British trade mission will be coming to Guyana to explore the investment opportunities being offered here.

This will follow the visit of a previous UK trading mission earlier this year, scoping investment opportunities here. That trade mission had comprised nine British companies ranging from education, manufacturing, and infrastructure.

Back in June, it was reported that Guyana is the UK’s United Kingdom’s largest trade partner in the Caribbean region, attracting interest in the establishment of a British Chamber of Commerce locally.

Last year, trade in goods and services between the UK and Guyana was £560 million. This represented 21.6 per cent of trade facilitated between the Caribbean Region thus making Guyana the largest trade partner in the Region.

President Ali revealed last month that Guyana’s trade with the UK has increased by over 17 per cent in the last four quarters with more and more local goods continuing to be exported.

“The UK’s import from and export to Guyana, for the previous four quarters, increased by 17.2 per cent. That is the UK imports increased by 7.2 per cent and the exports, 2.7 per cent. Now this can increase greatly, with just one transaction,” the Head of State had noted.