Georgetown, Guyana – (April 24, 2017) President David Granger, today, said that Guyana’s future as an investment capital is a promising one and that foreign investors are keen on the country’s investment potential in light of Government’s efforts to create a conducive environment for business and commerce. The President made these comments during a meeting with Caribbean Council’s Managing Director, Mr. Chris Bennett, Marketing and Events Coordinator, Ms. Emily Soar one day ahead of Guyana’s attendance at an Investment Seminar on Guyana which will be hosted by the Council at the Army and Navy Club, London.
The seminar will be attended by several major UK based stakeholders including Tullow Oil plc, Repsol S.A, BK Atlantic as well as other agencies interested in investing in Guyana and the Caribbean in the areas of port infrastructure and other sectors. Guyana’s attendance at this seminar is therefore critical as it augurs well for the country’s investment agenda. The event also comes at a time when renewed interest in investment by foreign stakeholders is growing due to Guyana’s changing business environment and President Granger, during a brief interview following the meeting, said that investors would have therefore taken note of this. “There is definitely deeper interest [in investment]. Investors are not foolish people, they want to make a profit and they are very careful with their investments and they wanted to see that we have made changes to the conditions and situations that existed before. I think now they are seeing greater transparency, they are seeing a respect for institutions, they are seeing the passage of legislations for anti-money laundering, they are seeing the arrest of former government servants who have been accused of committing offences. I think they feel that Guyana is a safer, cleaner destination for their investment and when people plan to come into a country they would want to do reconnaissance, they would want to come and do feasibility studies and I think this is what has taken place now,” the President said.
It is against this backdrop that Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Carl Greenidge, during the interview, said that tomorrow’s seminar will serve as a means of creating new investment opportunities while strengthening existing relationships that the country has with the United Kingdom. “[The President’s] great interest here is in speaking to investors; those who have an interest and a capacity to participate either in Three Ps [Public-Private Partnership] Projects or simply undertaking foreign direct investment,’ the Minister said. He said that the event will also see attendance from investors, British policy makers, members of the European Commission, Members of the European Union as well as private sector agencies. “All of those are important in terms of creating a helpful climate for the type of investment that Guyana needs. So those people will be present and we will try to whet their appetite as it were and to work with them. Some are already undertaking investments in Guyana, some have perhaps an interest which we need to capitalise on and that is the nature and the focus. In the case of the policy makers, for example, in the UK, the President, I believe, will be continuing the types of exchanges that he would have started with them before,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, President Granger said that this visit is a reengagement with the United Kingdom which is meant to strengthen ties and is not necessarily triggered by Brexit. “I met Prime Minister David Cameron since 2015 and he had indicated his intention to reengage more fully with the Caribbean, of course you know Britain has been in the Caribbean for over three centuries and it is a question of perhaps re-evaluating Britain’s role in terms of trade and investment on a worldwide context. I would not have associated in a more narrow sense with Brexit, certainly every country is concerned with its national interest and Britain has advantages in the Caribbean. It is an English speaking region. We are all members of the Commonwealth and British industries, British tourists, British investments are well established so I would say of all the nations on earth Britain has advantages in the Caribbean and it is a good thing that they would mark or signal their intention to reengage,” the President said.
This reengagement, the President said, could also see long term benefits for the Caribbean, and by extension for Guyana. “Although Britain may not be regarded as one of the key strategic powers it is certainly a major economic power in terms of trade and financial services and we can’t ignore that. Britain, whether or not it is part of the EU, is itself a large market and it has social capital and this is the sort of thing Guyana needs for its development. We feel that in terms of other relationships we have with Britain: engineering, education, infrastructural development there is a lot of work that Britain can do. Several of the major projects in Guyana were constructed by British engineers- sea defences, water control schemes. So there is much more that we can get out of our relationship with Britain and this is a good opportunity. So my being here is advancement on Guyana’s infrastructural and economic development. We can’t lose,” the Head of State said.
The Minister said that Guyana has worked fairly assiduously with the UK with regard to particular issues such as Guyana’s sovereignty, investment and security. “Security has implications for the diaspora even our diaspora as well as foreigners. They want to be assured that their economic investments are properly protected so legal framework- it’s still an area we have to do a lot of work in…Outside of that of course there are the usual problems of ensuring safety or persons. I am speaking also of safety of property of investments. That is something that needs to be taken a lot further and they have been approached for assistance in both those directions,” the Minister said.
Moreover, the Minister said that Guyana’s future as a petroleum producing nation has undoubtedly increased the interest of other countries with regard to investment opportunities. “Part of the logical reason for that is that you are speaking of benefits from the operation of an oil industry, from greater economic growth and success that would go with oil. So people are preparing to now look not at investments in oil and gas itself but other areas whether they be infrastructure or normal business,” the Minister said.