Another EU trade mission for Guyana this year with focus on agri, forest products
A total of 24 companies from nine European Union (EU) member states visited Guyana as part of the first such trade mission to the South American country, currently undergoing massive transformation with its newfound oil wealth.
Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Guyana, Ambassador René Van Nes said the mission was largely a success even as the Delegation is seeking feedback from the participating EU companies.
“It was a great mission, we had fantastic companies,” Van Nes said during an engagement with the media last week before announcing plans for another trade mission to return to Guyana in October/November 2024.
“For that mission, we have the ambition to have more companies from the agri sector,” the Ambassador noted, explaining that the EU was keen to support the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) 25 by 2025 vision being led by Guyana.
CARICOM hopes to reduce its food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025 with emphasis on growing more food and expanding the regional manufacturing and agro-processing capacity.
But in addition to seeking more companies with an interest in agriculture to come to Guyana, Van Nes said there is also an intention to bring companies interested in producing value-added products such as furniture using wood cut from Guyana’s forests.
It is expected that those companies will see value in setting up factories to build the furniture right here instead of exporting the wood and then the furnishing has to be bought and sent back here.
“People often tell me if you want to buy furniture from wood made from the forest in Guyana you have to order it in China.
“They buy our logs, they make the furniture but that’s not ideal,” Van Nes said.
He noted that while this is the intention of the Delegation, it will take considerable work to convince those companies to come here.
There is also an EU-GUYANA Chamber of Commerce, launched in 2022, that is helping to support this type of exchange.
Van Nes noted that there are a number of major EU companies operating in Guyana but said there may be a need to work on their visibility.
The biggest one is SBM Offshore – a Dutch company that builds some of the FPSOs operating offshore Guyana.
There are also EU companies from Germany working on the gas-to- energy project and others working in infrastructure from Belgium and Austria.
“There are a number of very big projects where significant EU companies are working… beneath that… EU companies are crucial in the oil sector and beyond.=
“We may need to make more noise about what the EU does… EU companies are modest and look to build long term relations,” Van Nes said as he made a case for more promotion of EU companies locally.