By Vishani Ragobeer
Guyana and other small Caribbean nations are grappling with worsened price surges but President Dr. Irfaan Ali believes that strong, capable economies like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) can provide much-needed support to counter the challenge.
President Ali spoke at a panel discussion at the Global Business Forum- LATAM being held in Dubai, UAE. This forum is intended to deepen relations between countries in the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean.
There, the Head-of-State emphasised that Guyana hopes to use its oil and gas resources to build a strong diversified economy, giving its people a “better shot” at a better life.
In so doing, however, President Ali said that Guyana recognises the challenges it is confronted by. One noteworthy challenge experienced by both Guyana and the wider Caribbean is the small states’ vulnerability to external shocks- like the ongoing global price surge.
“… As small developing states in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), that impact is magnified for us,” President Ali lamented.
Supply chain challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant increase in the cost of commodities such as food and fuel; the ongoing Ukraine-Russia crisis has worsened the international price surge.
Guyana’s government has instituted several relief measures. Even so, President Ali explained that the country is among those import-dependent nations in the Caribbean region that have been hard-hit.
Consequently, he said, “(This) has pushed the region to the better understanding that we need to become more self-sufficient.”
The ongoing regional thrust to boost food security– led by Guyana- has been touted as the solution to help Caribbean countries counter the rising costs. But President Ali says that Guyana and other Caribbean countries welcome investments.
“In CARICOM, there is absolutely no push back against globalisation.
“We have a very open system to international investment,” the President said.
And the UAE is being eyed as a new, key investment partner.
In fact, President Ali says that Guyana is hoping to garner much from the UAE, whether it is investments, technology transfer or learning how to make governance more efficient.
He said that despite being touted as a “little Dubai” or “the next Dubai,” Guyana does not want to compete against the UAE. Instead, he hopes that the country can learn how to exploit its resources meaningfully – just as he believes the UAE has done.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, who spoke alongside President Ali, highlighted that this oil-producing nation is seeking to expand its international trade over the next ten years. The goal is to open trade to 90 per cent of the globe.
And Dr. Zeyoudi said he believes that the Latin America and Caribbean region could be “one of the main solutions” to the global food issue. What will boost the region’s ability, he believed, is learning from the UAE’s experience and securing investments.
“They do have the natural resources, the capabilities, the skills and the capacity to grow,” he posited.
The two leaders alluded to deepening relations between Guyana and the UAE, mentioning that new agreements may be inked this week. President Ali said the focus will be on “Government-to-government and people-to-people transformation.”