President Dr. Irfaan Ali has talked up partnerships with neighbouring Brazil in the oil and gas industry and in bauxite mining ahead of the visit of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, carded for later this month.
The two Presidents engaged via teleconference on Monday, according to a release from the Office of the President. And during that conference, President Ali emphasised that Guyana wants to have a very strong strategic partnership with its Portuguese-speaking neighbours.
“We have a number of important issues and opportunities for both Guyana and Brazil that I wanted to highlight even before our meeting, so our technical teams can start some work,” President Ali was quoted as saying.
The areas where President Ali believed that the two countries can strengthen their partnerships include energy and food security, telecommunication, infrastructure integration and trade.
He also talked up linking the two territories.
The Guyanese Head-of-State said that in addition to oil and gas, expanding opportunities in the other non-oil natural resources sector such as bauxite will create an opportunity for a direct link to northern Brazil and the Atlantic that can “create an excellent platform for us to develop an integrated project”.
It was only last month that President Ali announced that a massive regional summit featuring the leaders of Guyana, Brazil, Suriname and French Guiana is scheduled for January and it is expected that the countries may agree on a framework for energy cooperation.
Additionally, in December, President Ali reminded Berbicians that there are massive bauxite deposits in Region Six and across the Corentyne River in Suriname.
“With cheaper electricity and the combination of the bauxite on the other side of the Corentyne river, it makes the economic viability of a smelter possible and not only possible but financially viable,” he explained then.
Meanwhile, President Ali also talked up trade relations with Brazil during Monday’s teleconference.
There is an existing partial scope agreement that aims to foster bilateral trade flows by the exchange of tariff preferences between the two countries, cooperation on trade matters and increased participation of the private sector.
The release, however, noted that these trade relations are currently under negotiation to be expanded since Guyana wants to increase its trade quota, especially with the quantity of rice being exported to Brazil.
It was reported that President Bolsonaro, via an interpreter, said that the agenda for discussion looks “very promising” and that he will ensure that technical staff from the relevant ministries in Brazil travel for the state visit.
Finance Minister Ashni Singh; Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hugh Todd; Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ambassador Elisabeth Harper were also at the Office of the President for the teleconference.