Guyana’s economic development has been constrained, historically, by the small size of its population, small domestic markets and the small range and volume of primary commodity exports. These have made its economy highly vulnerable to exogenous economic shocks.

The Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) is the way to build more resilient economies, not only in the Caribbean but also in Guyana. The CSME aims, in the long-term, at creating a single economic space with an enlarged market producing globally competitive goods and services.

Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, 24 hours ago, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote economic cooperation. We hope to conclude, soon, a framework agreement for economic cooperation with Barbados.

We attended the Ninth Meeting of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy in Barbados earlier this month. We see Guyana’s future in the Caribbean and we see the Caribbean’s future in Guyana.

Our economic interests are intertwined with those of the Region. We shall continue to pursue regional economic cooperation in order to build greater prosperity and global competitiveness.

The Guyana Trade and Investment Exhibition (GuyTIE) comes at a time of renewed efforts to re-energise Caribbean economies. The exhibition’s theme – “Made Locally, Trading Globally” – and its objective of promoting export-ready firms and linking them with regional and international businesses are all consistent with the objectives of economic integration in the Caribbean.

The private sector has a pivotal role to play regional economic cooperation. The private sector, to fulfill this role, should aim at increasing international trade and at avoiding the dangers of insularity.

The private sector should aim at increasing investment and at becoming more innovative in pursuing new markets and improving the competitiveness of its goods and services. Investment is the fuel for wealth creation and employment generation.

The Caribbean – in an era of trade wars and Brexit – is an important common market. The combined land space of the countries of the Caribbean Community is almost equivalent to that of Sweden.

There is huge potential for increased intra-regional trade. Intra-regional exports, at the end of 2014, stood at a 13.1 per cent of total regional exports of US$22.3 B.

The Region’s estimated US$ 4.5B annual food import bill could be slashed. Ten commodities – food preparations, wheat, rice, chicken, non-alcoholic beverages, maize, soybean, sugar and palm oil – account for more than 40 per cent of the Region’s food import bill. Stock feed, valued at US$ 204M, accounts for more than five per cent of the bill.

The Caribbean, taken as a whole, has the land, labour and capital to overcome its most severe setbacks to achieving food security. There is a need, however, for intensified collaboration between local, regional and international firms to grasp opportunities, which can provide a platform for global market penetration.

Government is obliged to enhance the environment for business development and has been doing so by:
– emphasizing education so as to ensure suitable and adequate skills for development;
– enhancing the country’s physical infrastructure and energy security; and
– ensuring policies, laws and regulations which promote ease-of-doing business and fairer competition.

It has been said: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. We are on the surge of a rising tide that will deliver transformative economic change. The world-class discoveries of petroleum, made in the maritime space will unleash unprecedented business opportunities.

Petroleum revenues will catalyse economic growth, increase employment and demand, propel innovation, intensify technology transfer and improve workforce productivity.

Guyana will soon become the Caribbean’s foremost investment destination. The private sector should aim at building capacity and establishing strategic partnerships to be able to exploit the opportunities which will flow from the petroleum sector.

Experience has forewarned us of the dangers of dependence on one sector or commodity. Petroleum revenues will be deployed prudently to ensure sustainable and inclusive development under the Green State Development Strategy – the pathway to the economic transformation of Guyana into a “green state.”

Such a ‘green’ state emphasises the policies of preserving our biodiversity, protecting residents and economic sectors from natural hazards, promoting food and energy security, improving solid waste management and adding value to local production.

The Guyana Trade and Investment Exhibition is a welcome development. It is a platform for local businesses to engage and network within regional and international investors.

GuyTIE could enhance Guyana’s investment image as an investor-friendly state. It can improve competitiveness of large, small and medium sized enterprises and strategically position Guyana and the Caribbean in the global marketplace.

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