President David Granger said his Government could look at reopening the rice deal with its Spanish-speaking South American neighbour, Venezuela, if negotiations go well by his Ambassador, Foreign Affairs and Finance Ministers.
“I did meet with the Ambassador before she left for her post and I did say that we are interested in that market. It came to an end. The agreement came to an end and we need a new agreement. Both the Foreign Minister and Finance Minister are working at that, but we are also examining new markets in Latin America including Panama and Costa Rica and Mexico. That is a clear objective and mandate given to ambassadors”, President Granger said in his weekly televised “Public Interest” Programme.
Opposition Shadow Finance Minister Irfaan Ali, had proposed a motion in the National Assembly titled “The state of the rice industry in Guyana” which highlighted the plight under which rice farmers have found themselves. The motion called on the President Granger Administration to resume ties with Venezuela, so that some amount of relief could be had among rice farmers.
The President has acknowledged the need to recapture the Venezuelan rice market and even indicated that his Finance and Foreign ministers were working on securing that market once again.
Meanwhile, economic commentator and former Minister of Foreign Trade under the PPP/C Dr Henry Jeffery was quoted in the Guyana Times as saying that he sees no reason why government could not reopen the rice deal.
“I think it is a good idea. Whether or not Venezuela is in economic crises, the Venezuelans will have to decide whether or not they want to restart the deal. They still have to eat, therefore no doubt they still have to get rice and therefore I see no reason wrong with Guyana attempting to restart the deal”, he said.