Guyana plans strong case for fairness, new trade system at Summit of the Americas


By Vishani Ragobeer in Los Angeles

Guyana is seeking to make a strong case for much fairer policies and a new trade system, both of which are expected to advance the development of countries in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the wider Americas, President Dr. Irfaan Ali has said.

President Ali is in Los Angeles, California attending the IX Summit of the Americas. He is leading a delegation of officials who are all focused on advancing Guyana’s interests.

Though Guyana is a small country located in South America, the country’s Head of State believes that Guyana is an “important player” in all of the discussions at the Summit.

And President Ali emphasised that the country will fervently advocate for fairer systems for all, cognizant of the unique challenges bedevilling nations’ development.

“We can’t speak of resilience in the Americas if we can’t find a fair framework as to how we address pandemics and you don’t have countries in the Americas who find themselves hustling for vaccines when we are part of a system that is supposed to be supporting each other.

“That is what true partnership is about,” President Ali said during an exclusive interview with the News Room on the sidelines of the ongoing Summit.

President Dr Irfaan Ali at the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles (Photo: Office of the President/June 8, 2022)

This summit is a meeting of leaders of countries in the Organization of American States (OAS). This year, it is being held during the week of June 6 to 10, in the United States of America (USA).

President Ali joins numerous other Heads of Government from the CARICOM and other countries in the western hemisphere for talks on creating a resilient, sustainable future for the region.

Among the key areas of discussion for Guyana will be the country’s efforts at protecting the region from food insecurity, ensuring that supply chain disruptions and global food shortages do not impact people within the Caribbean.

These efforts, if successful, will see Guyana and other countries in the Caribbean expanding production and trade with the global market.

To do this, however, a new trade system is key. And Guyana intends to back efforts from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to achieve just this.

“We will be pushing (the new trade policy) because we need a fairer system.

“We have to push hard at this, especially the developing countries in the Americas,” President Ali stated.

The country also hopes to galvanise support for payments to keep its forests intact; that is, it hopes to market carbon credits.

A carbon credit is a kind of tradeable permit or certificate that represents the removal of a certain amount of carbon dioxide from the environment. Since carbon dioxide is the principal greenhouse gas that harms the environment, it is tracked and traded like any other commodity, hence the name carbon market.

What Guyana is hoping to do, as it did before with Norway, is market these credits to countries or companies. This would, essentially, mean that the countries or companies would pay Guyana to keep its forests intact.

This is particularly important, the President explained, because the country has a raft of financing needs – chief among which is protecting itself from rising sea levels and other harsh effects of climate change.

The nascent oil producer, which has long demonstrated its environmental responsibility, is also hoping to demonstrate that it has the ability to provide a reliable, suitable source of energy to the region.

Doing so, the President explained, will allow the country to expand its productive capacity and fill global supply challenges, whether it is for fuel, food or other commodities.

Already, President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Mauricio Claver-Carone, has said that countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region can earn up to US$80 billion annually by expanding trade.

The IDB President, who spoke at a Trade and Investment Forum on the sidelines of the ongoing Summit of the Americas, explained that the shutdown of manufacturing and supply chain disruptions from China, exacerbated by the disruption caused by Russia’s ongoing war in China, has created an opportunity for the LAC region to supply much-demanded goods and services across the world.

President Ali agrees that Guyana and other countries in the region can fill those gaps, but greater cooperation is needed.

This is Dr. Ali’s first time participating in the gathering of Heads of Government of the Americas as Guyana’s Head of State.

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