President Dr Irfaan Ali told scores of UK investors and business leaders about the investment opportunities in the Caribbean, given its tremendous market access.
He made this assertion as he addressed the Caribbean Council’s House of Lords Annual Reception on Wednesday evening in London.
He said that as a tourism hub and through its strategic location, the Caribbean has access to over 220 million people directly or through trade agreements.
“We have complete trade agreements with Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and of course, we are part of the economic partnership agreement.”
To illustrate, he pointed to the region’s food import bill and their market values; these include palm oil worth $US142m; cocoa worth US$48.5m; spices worth US$10.6m; beef and beef products worth US$40m among others.
The region’s food import bill, he added, will grow to at least $10b in the immediate future.
The President said that the region has the capacity to produce what it will consume and that it “has an investment framework that allows great competitiveness” which would benefit the business community in the UK and the rest of Europe.
He told the group that the Caribbean is already looking to be more self-sufficient and to produce more. He informed them about the 25% reduction in the food importation bill that will be achieved by 2025. He also proudly stated that Guyana has a lead role and a lead responsibility in achieving that target and will host the inaugural Agri-Investment Forum and Expo this year from May 19-24.
President Ali reiterated that the development and prosperity of Guyana must be the prosperity of the region—a region he said is often overlooked.
On this note, he called for a new perspective and renewed interest in the region given the present global environment.
“What is needed now is a new development of the relationship and new perspective—a renewed interest in the Caribbean because there is tremendous opportunity and given what is taking place globally, the Caribbean is presenting itself as an interesting solution for investors and investments.”
GUYANA’S LEADING ROLE
President Ali told the gathering that despite Guyana’s growing oil and gas sector, the economy would be multifaceted.
“We see ourselves as an economy in transition that is allowed this great blessing of oil as a mode of taking us into the transition we so want.”
The Government, he added, will use the resources to invest in other sectors including infrastructure expansion, ICT, tourism, health and education under a “new wave of development”.
Within this context, he said the projection is that Guyana’s oil and gas sector will have a “long future” which will provide the opportunity to advance the other sectors.
The President also outlined Guyana’s leading role in the environment, climate change mitigation and vast natural resources including freshwater reserves.
“So when we’re going to discuss climate change in the future, Guyana will be on the table; when we discuss oil and gas, Guyana will be on the table; when we discuss freshwater, Guyana will be on the table; when we discuss food sustainability and agriculture, Guyana will be on the table because we are working towards becoming the breadbasket of the Caribbean. When we talk about energy sustainability, Guyana will be on the table and when we talk about issues of regional integration. Guyana will be on the table.”
He also spoke about the Government’s plan to reduce the cost of energy by 50% by 2025. “When we do that, we now become competitive with any other producer in the region.”
Despite Guyana’s many potentials, President Ali noted that the most important asset the country possesses is its people. He spoke about his Government’s ‘One Guyana’ initiative and the mission to include all Guyanese in the country’s development.
In closing, the President invited those gathered to travel to Guyana and examine the opportunities for themselves.
“There is a lot of possibility and a lot of resources available through the UK Government. Once you have a big idea, I can tell you, there is an opportunity.”