Private Sector forms trade facilitation councils with Cuba, Canada and India

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As the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) moves to increase trade with Canada, India and Cuba, it also hopes to put mechanisms in place to protect thousands of Cubans who travel to Guyana on a monthly basis to support local businesses.

The GCCI and the High Commissioners of India and Canada along Ambassador of Cuba to Guyana on Monday launched three Trade Facilitation Councils.

At a press conference at the Chamber’s Waterloo Street, Georgetown office, President of GCCI, Deodat Indar said “we have a lot of Cubans in Guyana, at least 1,000 persons every month. It is unregulated to some extent.”

He, therefore, noted that the council with Cuba “can have some kind of impact on how we do trade, where they stay, make sure they’re not in crime-ridden areas, make sure people are not exploited, different things they can do.”

Cuban Ambassador to Guyana, Mr. Narciso Reinaldo Armador Soeorro lauded the initiative.

According to Indar, the GCCI took the decision to establish structured bodies to improve trade relations with the three countries following the dismal performance of some sectors in 2017.

He said while various Canadian companies are already in joint ventures with Guyanese businesses, more needs to be done with the Indian private sector.

“What we want to do is ensure we have smooth business between the two countries. Most time you find that when you’re going it alone and you have all of these requirements to fulfil, it normally acts as a deterrent to going to that export market and to facilitate smooth trade,” Indar said.

Indian High Commissioner, Venkatachalam Mahalingam said the council is important to the progress of a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Federation of Indian Export Organisations.

The Diplomat said an agreement was signed in 2003 to establish a joint business council between the two countries. However, he criticised the fact that nothing ever happened after the agreement was signed.

“I was trying to understand, looking at the files available, what could have been the reasons not taking that step forward but I was definitely not able to get anything out of it,” the Indian Diplomat said.

Mahalingam said anything which occurred between Guyana and India subsequently was as a direct result of initiative taken by businesspersons.

The councils will comprise of representatives from the Chamber, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Business, the Guyana Office for Investment and representatives from the various Embassies.

Therefore, he lauded the fact that the councils will include a representative from the High Commission.

The High Commissioner also invited the business community to approach the EXIM bank to access credit to trade with India.

Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Lilian Chaterjee pointed out that Guyana is already Canada’s largest trade partner in CARICOM. However, she hopes to see this increasing in the future.

Executive Director for Economic Cooperation and Global Trade Investment within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rawle Lucas noted that international markets are vital to the development of Guyana’s business sector. He noted that this will significantly benefit the country.

There will be monitoring mechanisms in place which will see the councils reporting to the Chamber and other stakeholders once per month on their achievements.

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