Space remains for China & US but Europe’s aid to Guyana is significant – Ambassador Cantó
By Kurt Campbell
Europe’s financial support for Guyana is possibly the largest the country has received through bilateral arrangements in recent years with the European Union (EU) holding itself out as a major development partner for the new oil-producing nation.
While the bloc of 27 member states has a new strategic focus to improve its relations with Guyana, outgoing European Union (EU) Ambassador, Dr. Fernando Pontz Cantó, believes there is still room for Guyana to accept support from other superpowers like the United States of America and China.
He noted, however, that Europe’s support in the form of development aid is without expectations.
“There is a space for everybody.
“Personally, any help that Guyana can get makes me happy, be it from China, be it from the United States, or be it from ourselves,” the EU diplomat noted during an exclusive interview with the News Room which will be aired in full at 19:00 hrs on Sunday on E1 and the News Room’s Facebook page.
Dr. Cantó said the EU is, by far, the largest donor of development cooperation in the world and with Guyana, it is no different.
In fact, while bilateral funding from the EU is being significantly reduced for many countries in the Caribbean, Guyana will benefit from direct bilateral financing totalling €21 million over the next six years with separate access to regional and continental donor funds.
“Perhaps other players may have different policies but I think Guyana and the EU have a common foundation of values and objectives on which we can build a lot and achieve a lot together.”
The EU diplomat, although not in total agreement with the support policies and principles of other countries, said “Guyana is following a wise strategy which is to be open to all kind of help.”
“This is not a zero-sum game, it is a win-win. Every help will be useful for your country…we know that we cannot support Guyana for everything so other donors can get in and support and I’m sure they will support the things we cannot support,” Ambassador Cantó contended.
He hailed the visit of the EU’s Deputy Director for Americas, European External Action Service Mr. Javier Niño Pérez in 2021 as indicative of the growing appreciation that the EU has for Guyana.
But it was Mr. Pérez who had raised concerns in Georgetown about the pitfalls of borrowing from China and disagreed with claims that China offers better loan conditions.
China’s Ambassador to Guyana, Guo Haiyan has already responded during a previous interview with the News Room, assuring Guyanese that loans and borrowing agreements with the Chinese government and Chinese banks are done through friendly consultations and negotiations.
And President Dr Irfaan Ali was also called upon to comment on China’s growing support for Guyana during a recent trip to the United States.
The Guyanese leader responded by urging the U.S to take up a more strategic place in the Caribbean while highlighting the neglect the region faced by the U.S while China had remained a constant friend.
Meanwhile, the outgoing EU Ambassador also spoke about the EU’s focus on restructuring and strengthening its 50-year-old relationship with Guyana.
“Now it’s better than ever. When I came, it was a good relationship but it has really increased a lot, enhanced politically… also economically.”
Imports and exports from the EU to Guyana have increased significantly in recent years with a new bilateral business chamber launched last week.
Similar bilateral chambers were established in recent years between Guyana and the USA and Canada with plans to establish the arrangement between the private sectors in Guyana and China and the United Kingdom.