One day after the government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Trinidad for cooperation on energy and other sectors, President David Granger has announced that there will be a similar agreement with Barbados.
“We hope to conclude, soon, a framework agreement for economic cooperation with Barbados,” the President he told a packed room of local and foreign business persons at the opening of the Guyana Trade and Investment Exhibition at the Guyana Marriott Hotel in Georgetown.
He implied that the decision was taken following the Ninth Meeting of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy in Barbados earlier this month. The meeting was attended by the President and Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge.
Touting the need for development of not only Guyana’s economy but the Regional economy, Mr. Granger said: “we see Guyana’s future in the Caribbean and we see the Caribbean’s future in Guyana.”
There have been many criticisms following the announcement of the MoU with Trinidad and Tobago by the business community and others who spoke of the treatment meted out to Guyanese over the years by the twin-island Republic. There were concerns raised about a large influx of Trinidadians into Guyana which can be detrimental to local businesses, but Mr. Granger on Wednesday assured that there was no underhand deal in the making with the agreement.
President Granger told the participators at the GUYTIE opening that Guyana’s “economic interests are intertwined with those of the Region.”
“We shall continue to pursue regional economic cooperation in order to build greater prosperity and global competitiveness,” he stated.
The Head of State noted that Guyana’seconomic development has been constrained, historically, by the small size of its population, small domestic markets and the small range and volume of primary commodity exports, making its economy highly vulnerable to exogenous economic shocks.
He spoke of the CSME as a way to build more resilient economies, which in the long-term, will create “a single economic space with an enlarged market producing globally competitive goods and services.”
However, many persons believe the CSME, which was formulated to integrate CARICOM Member States into a single economic unit, is taking too long to reap benefits.
In June of this year, Secretary-General to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Ambassador Irwin LaRocque told a Regional Stakeholder consultation on the CSME that there needs to be faster action as he alluded to processes that have been ongoing since 2005 without any plausible outcome.
Noting that Intra-regional exports at the end of 2014stood at a 13.1 per cent of total regional exports of US$22.3 B, President Granger said: “the Caribbean – in an era of trade wars and Brexit – is an important common market.”
“The Caribbean, taken as a whole, has the land, labor and capital to overcome its most severe setbacks to achieving food security. There is a need, however, for intensified collaboration between local, regional and international firms to grasp opportunities, which can provide a platform for global market penetration,” he added.
The President called on the private sector to take up its role in regional economic cooperation.
The Region’s estimated US$ 4.5B annual food import bill could be slashed, he noted.