Surinamese President expected to launch Guyana-Suriname Business Council during State visit

Guyanese President Dr Irfaan Ali and Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santokhi [File Photo]
Guyanese President Dr Irfaan Ali and Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santokhi

Suriname’s President, Chandrikapersad Santokhi arrived in Guyana just before 15:00h on Tuesday, officially commencing his four-day State visit aimed at furthering the relationship between the two countries.

President Santokhi was welcomed at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) by Prime Minister Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips and Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony who is also acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

The Surinamese leader will be in Guyana until August 20 and is expected to meet with President Dr Irfaan Ali to review the progress made on the Guyana-Suriname Strategic Dialogue and Cooperation Platform (SDCP).

Additionally, both South American Presidents are expected to launch the Guyana-Suriname Business Council on Thursday, in the interest of further advancing business relations among the two countries.

During his time in Guyana, President Santokhi and his high level team including Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation Minister, Ambassador Albert R Ramdin; Natural Resources Minister, David Abiamofo; Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Minister, Parmanand Sewdien; Public Works Minister, Riad Nurmohamed; Transport, Communication and Tourism Minister, Albert E Jubithana; representatives of the State Oil Company of Suriname and members of the Private Sector out of Paramaribo, will be meeting with Government and the local Private Sector bodies.

Both Presidents Ali and Santokhi and their respective Ministers are expected to assess several areas under the SDCP platform, including foreign policy, political dialogue, infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, security and Private Sector enhancement.
Based on the preliminary itinerary, Presidents Ali and Santokhi will hold a joint press conference on Thursday followed by the signing of two agreements – a trade agreement in agriculture and the other in health.

Today, the visiting Head of State will spend the day at the Office of the President where he will engage in a series of meetings with the Government and Private Sector.

The Surinamese President made his first visit to Guyana for the inauguration of President Ali back in August 2020 – following the tumultuous five-month long election process.

During that visit, the two Presidents engaged in a series of meetings with stakeholders on a number of issues. In fact, the Guyanese and Surinamese Presidents met with members of the Guyanese Private Sector and diplomatic community during which business and commerce opportunities, among other mutual areas of benefit, were discussed.

As newcomers in the oil and gas sector, the two countries are looking to tap into each other’s Private Sectors to peddle sustainable development and further strengthening bilateral ties.

President Ali had said at the time that Guyana and Suriname must not compete but complement each other as they embark on this new development trajectory.

Meanwhile, during President Ali’s reciprocal visit to Paramaribo last November, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed to facilitate the joint bridging of the Corentyne River.

Speaking about the visit, President Ali told reporters on Monday that the visit is an important one in advancing collaborative agreements between the two countries.

“Suriname is also going be a big player in the oil and gas sector. The two countries both have small populations, similar challenges, similar opportunities ahead. So, we have to see how we can merge our thinking and ensure the policies reflect that integrated approach we want to bring betterment for all the people of the two countries,” Ali had said.