Opportunities exist for Brazil to utilise port facilities, buy electricity from Guyana – PSC 

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Aerial view of the Demerara river in Georgetown, Guyana, on March 1, 2020. (Photo by Luis ACOSTA / AFP) (Photo by LUIS ACOSTA/AFP via Getty Images)

As the Presidents of Guyana and Brazil gear up to meet to discuss ways in which the two South American nations can foster greater ties, the local private sector is looking forward to the wave of opportunities that will become available once the neighbouring countries put the necessary systems in place to achieve this.

Head of Guyana’s Private Sector Commission (PSC) Paul Cheong, in an interview with media operatives on Tuesday, explained that Guyana and Brazil can further cooperation in areas of agriculture, energy, and shipping.

“Brazil is our neighbour. It’s a large country, it has a large population, large market. Guyana, we’re a developing country and there’s a lot we can learn from Brazil. Agriculture, Guyana has a lot of potential in agriculture. Brazil. they are experts… in a lot of the fields in agriculture, we can learn so much from them,” Cheong explained.

“Guyana is now embarking on soya bean and corn cultivation. Brazil has been doing that for years and they’ve been doing research. We have similar soil structure in many regards, so the technology that they use we can also use here,” he added.

In 2009, the Takutu River Bridge was the first land connection between Brazil and Guyana and efforts are currently ongoing to develop an all-weather road from Georgetown to Lethem in a bid to improve travel between the two nations.

The PSC Chairman said these linkages between Guyana and Brazil create “lots of opportunities”.

“In terms of building a deep water harbour, the roads from Georgetown to Lethem, we know a large part of Brazil is land-locked, they don’t have access to port facilities and we can develop port facilities that can cater for Brazil and also we can piggyback on that because Guyana, by itself, may not have the amount of cargo for large ships but when you combine the cargo for Guyana and Brazil and those parts that are land-locked, it becomes feasible and profitable. That, we can benefit from immensely, and it can become a transformative project because shipping, when you get large ships coming, the freight rates will fall, that means the input for the manufacturing sector would reduce, the products become more competitive and also the consumer prices would reduce because, again, when freight reduce the consumer cost goes down,” he explained.

Cheong said there are also many opportunities in the area of energy. He said “there’s going to be energy, it’s going to be an avenue to sell our energy too. We have lots of natural gas, through the oil and gas sector, and I’m sure we’ll be having excess energy, we can sell that, we can develop more hydro facilities and we can sell electricity to Brazil, and, also as I said it’s a large market.”

This, he noted, can open up further opportunities for the local manufacturing sector.

“Guyana has less than a million people. If you put down a large manufacturing plant here, you don’t have enough people to supply, so, for it to be feasible you need larger markets and Brazil can offer us that. We will be getting cheaper energy, lower freight, that all goes well for manufacturing and we can use that to our advantage, create more employment, create more opportunities for our people,” the PSC Head noted.

Guyana’s President Dr Irfaan Ali will be heading to Suriname on Thursday for talks with Surinamese President Chan Santokhi and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. After this, Guyana will host the Brazilian President for a one-day visit on Friday.

According to information coming out of Brazil, President Ali will join the Brazilian and Surinamese heads of state for a working lunch in Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname, Thursday where they will discuss “projects of common interest.”

“The presidential trip occurs in the context of strengthening bilateral relations, in a scenario of resumption of strategic dialogue between the governments and prospects for greater economic and social development in Suriname and Guyana, driven by recent oil and gas discoveries,” a statement from the Ministério das Relações Exteriores (Brazilian Foreign Ministry) said.

It was explained by the Ministry that the three Presidents “will review topics on the bilateral agendas in the areas of trade, investments, energy, infrastructure, security, defense, technical cooperation and regional issues.”

The Ministry noted that following the trip to Paramaribo, Bolsonaro will make an official visit to Georgetown, Guyana on Friday at the invitation of President Ali. It will be the first time Bolsonaro has visited Guyana, although he has previously met President Ali, such as on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN).

Among the projects planned for the Guiana shield that requires bilateral cooperation between Guyana, Suriname and Brazil is a deep-water harbour that is likely to be built by Abu Dhabi Ports.