‘Guyana has unprecedented opportunities to lift people out of poverty in next few years’ – EU Rep.

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The European Union is in the process of intensifying its investments here and according to Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Helena Konig, Guyana has “unprecedented” opportunities that will lift people out of poverty in the next few years.

“You are having impressive growth…The country has unprecedented opportunities for lifting everyone out of poverty in the next years,” Konig said during her address at a reception held in honour of her visit here on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the EAS Deputy Secretary General signed an agreement with President Dr Irfaan Ali to launch a partnership with Guyana which will see the country getting a €5 million (GY$1.1B) grant funding to help Indigenous communities create sustainable business ventures and overall, preserve the country’s biodiversity.

But apart from the deal, Konig shared that she participated in “very intense and dynamic” discussions on a variety of other issues including climate change, forest partnership, food security, trade, connectivity and pharmaceutical cooperation.

Other issues discussed include democracy, rule of law, human rights, human dignity, freedom and inclusiveness.

Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Helena Konig and Guyana’s Foreign Secretary, Robert Persaud at reception held in honour of her visit (Photo: Adrian Narine/March 16, 2023)

“All issues that are very important for Guyana and very important for the European Union…My discussion with the Government of Guyana, the diplomatic community here, and notably our friends from the UK, from the US and Canada and the representatives from the NGO community, have really given me good insight on the multilayers of your society,” she said.

According to Konig, it is obvious that Guyana’s recent growth is “very much” based on its oil and gas resource. This, she said, brings its own challenges and risk while noting that the EU is willing to work with Guyana to “maneuver” the difficulties.

“The new found wealth of oil and gas brings along challenges and risks also…but we are very happy to accompany Guyana on this journey and see how best we can help you to maneuver and get through these challenges going forward,” the EAS Deputy Secretary-General noted.

According to her, the Caribbean is an “obvious” market for Guyanese products and the EU’s interest to work with Guyana in the areas of transport and food production will be vital for the region in the years to come.

“I have been very happy to hear the government being very clear that you want to diversify your economy, you want to continue to work with renewals in parallel and you also are very keen to work with the Caribbean,” she said.

Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Helena Konig addressing those gathered at a reception held at the EU’s Ambassador’s Residence, Bel Air, Georgetown (Photo: Adrian Narine/March 16, 2023)

In this regard, she disclosed that the EU has a number of programmes to support Guyana, particularly its small and medium enterprises, “whether it’s in agriculture or sustainable management of forests or production, export or processing of other goods.”

“With 600 million consumers, the European Union is the third biggest single market in the world. And a large part of the European consumer base has an appetite for sustainable, high-end and unique products and is willing to pay for them,” Konig added.

Meanwhile, in delivering brief remarks, Prime Minister, Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips said Guyana and the EU have been “lasting” partners working together to advance the development and the role of Guyana’s forest.

“Like the European Union, Guyana has long focused on the search for practical solutions…Guyana applauds the programmes of the European Union in its green agenda that is bringing action to commitments made,” the Prime Minister said.

He added, “Our partnership with the European Union is based on creating solutions for the sustainable development and betterment of our country. The Government of Guyana is pleased to reaffirm Guyana’s commitment…as we work on making progress together and building our One Guyana.”

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