Lamenting the continuous increase in the Guyana’s trade deficit, President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Deodat Indar, is calling on stakeholders to increase their exportation of locally produced and manufactured goods to counteract the imbalance.
During a presentation at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) held recently, Indar drew attention to the figures from the Bureau of Statistics regarding Guyana’s exports in the first quarter of 2018.
He noted that from a total export of US$325 million between January to March, 59 per cent is raw gold; bauxite represents 9.6 per cent; shrimp and prawns 8.8 per cent. However, what was more startling, the GCCI head pointed out, is figures like 2.5 per cent for timber export, one per cent for sugar, fruits and vegetable.
“[Those are] very strong figures for such very large industries… that is something that needs to be looked at seriously because those are main foreign currency earners… and this is just the first quarter information… So that is telling a story that we need to export more in the different sectors, not just the primary commodities. Our finished products, manufactured goods and so need to be exported, and in that way, we can build our export capacity,” he posited.
Indar, who was recently elected the PSC Vice Chairman, highlighted some of the bottlenecks in Guyana’s exportation capability. He explained that while Guyana has a liberalised trade policy with many agreements with different countries, the country does not always reap the benefits.
“We have bilateral agreements with Columbia, with Costa Rica, Dominica Republic, in Argentina and in China, as well as a partial scope agreement with Brazil. So we have all of these agreements but the question is, is it to the benefit of the Guyanese businesses?” he asked.
The GCCI President turned his attention to the ‘CARICOM Block’, saying that although the region remains accessible, the Single Market and Economy aspect is something that continuously needs to be worked on.
He outlined that the local private sector finds that while there is some level of integration between Caribbean partners, there are some things that still need to be ironed out such as certain clauses in the Treaty of Chaguaramas. He mentioned, as an example, that if Guyana wants to export honey, it cannot go to Trinidad or even via Trinidad and this stifles honey exportation here.
Moreover, he went onto outline that foreign-direct investments have also been on the decrease from 2014 to 2017, and when that happens it affects aspect of the influx of foreign currency that Guyana badly needs.
He noted that most of the imports are being bought, and the invoices are, in US currency, so to balance out the trade and ensure there is a stable foreign currency market, foreign direct investments is always a good thing not only for the country but the private sector as well.
Against this background, he noted that there needs to be more encouragement of non-oil investments.