New Yorkers greatly interested in trade with Guyana – Senator

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On a visit to Guyana to meet with government officials and the local private sector, New York State Senator James Sanders Jr. of the 10th Senate District says there is significant interest to boost trade with the South American nation – both in the exports and imports markets.

Senator Sanders, who arrived in Guyana over the weekend, had an interview with this publication on Tuesday.

During the interview, he spoke of his constituents and their interest in business opportunities in Guyana. At the same time, he noted that there are also opportunities for Guyanese investors in New York, that can be explored.

“In terms of opportunities, there are those who want to import Guyanese products and sell them in the US market, or export US products into the Guyanese market. I personally wish we could get some of these coconuts and coconut water that Guyana has. I have found it incredibly rejuvenating,” the Senator said.

According to Sanders, he has met with President Dr Irfaan Ali and Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Narine. He also noted that there is an interest in building capacity to export hemp to the US market.

“Hemp is one of the things that the people of Guyana, the business community, is speaking of. So as chair of banking, I am very anxious to make sure that they’re speaking to the right banks and Guyanese banks are speaking to the right entrepreneurs.”

“Especially budding entrepreneurs. I think that we should have special projects and special programmes to help communities get into it. Especially communities that may not have a tradition of entrepreneurship at that level,” Senator Sanders said.

When it comes to establishing the framework for the hemp industry, which the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government is doing right now, Senator Sanders emphasised the importance of making finance available.

“The laws in (the US) is in flux and they’re changing fairly rapidly now, over the issue of hemp and over the issue of marijuana. But they’re also changing over many things. Then the second thing is, you want to have adequate financing.”

“You want to make sure that you can make a thing work from one end of the pond to the next, from the Caribbean to the Americas,” said the Senator, who has further meetings planned with various stakeholders, before he departs Guyana on Wednesday.

With the aim of establishing a viable industry here, the Guyana Government has already completed the first draft of the Hemp Bill and is now reviewing it. Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall, SC, recently said that there is a lot of interests being demonstrated, both in and out of Guyana, for the establishment of the relevant legislation to lay the foundation for a viable hemp industry here.

Some uses for hemp include rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, paper, bioplastics, insulation, and biofuel. It is rich in protein, unsaturated fats, fibre, minerals and vitamins. Hemp protects the brain, boosts heart health, reduces inflammation, improves skin conditions and relieves rheumatoid arthritis.

Hemp seeds are known to be particularly rich in healthy fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are known for improving heart health by reducing cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides.

Additionally, the results of the 2021 Hemp Acreage and Production Survey in its National Hemp Report which shows data of hemp grown in the open and under protection in the United States (US), stated that the value of US hemp production in the open totalled $712 million. The value of production for hemp that was grown under protection in the US totalled $112 million.

Senator Sanders has served as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banks and he heads the Senate Task Force on Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (MWBE), which is charged with finding innovative ways to better encourage and support MWBEs in the expansion of the New York economy.

In addition, Sanders was a member of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Advisory Council on MWBEs. The Advisory Council guides policy making and strategy to assist the City in reaching its pledge to award more than $16 billion dollars to MWBEs over a 10-year period.

Sanders was first appointed Senator for the 10th Senatorial District which includes the neighborhoods of South Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Rosedale, Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Springfield Gardens and most of the Rockaways, on September 13, 2012.