By Vishani Ragobeer
Guyana and India are among the world’s fastest growing economies and political leaders of both countries are pushing their respective private sectors to capitalise on enormous business opportunities presented by deepening bilateral ties.
This was made clear at a roundtable business discussion held on Saturday for the visiting Indian External Affairs Minister, Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and a private sector delegation from the South-Asian nation.
Dr Jaishankar acknowledged that bilateral ties between the two countries have been strengthened over the past year and “infused by a greater sense of energy.”
Some of that energy is linked to India’s long standing desire for oil from Guyana but the External Affairs Minister said energy is not the only area of interest. The two governments agreed to advance cooperation in healthcare, development, capacity building, agriculture, technology and defence.
And as Guyana pursues a diversified economy, not depending solely on newfound oil wealth, Dr Jaishankar said India is a good partner.
“For me, this is obviously an important visit.
“From our side, we would like to be as supportive as we can,” he said.
But the Senior Indian Minister added that the bilateral developments must be backed by private sector action.
“Our partnership needs to be refreshed to address a whole set of domains…and it would truly be our privilege to do that and in making that happen I count completely on the energy and the efforts and the dedication of the business community.
“Your success is really at the heart of our success,” he told the gathering of Guyanese and Indian private sector players gathered on Saturday at the Pegasus Corporate Suites.
Local officials made it clear that Guyana is open for Indian business.
Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, pointed out the growing economy of Guyana and its position as a hub for both the Caribbean and South America means that numerous opportunities are presenting themselves.
For India, specifically, he said doing business in Guyana is advantageous because of the language spoken and cultural ties that have existed for decades.
Now, too, he posited that the business environment is supported by sound government policies.
“Suffice it to say that irrespective of what you do in India, whether you manufacture the paper clip or aeroplane or wherever you fall in that spectrum…if you are looking for external opportunities, Guyana is ripe for those opportunities,” Dr. Singh said.
Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Hugh Todd reinforced the government’s position, positing that proactive measures of the government are meant to help the private sector, the body he described as the “engine of growth.”
Already, Indian companies are interested.
Chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Jai Shroff said India companies will be partnering on several projects in Guyana.
Guyana’s oil and gas industry, he said, presents much scope for collaboration but investors are also keen on agriculture and food processing, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), education and tourism.
“And going forward we look forward to bilateral engagements beyond trade to innovation and sustainable development,” Shroff said.