Georgetown, Guyana – (August 9, 2020) President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, this morning, hosted a working breakfast with His Excellency Chandrikapersad Santokhi, President of the Republic of Suriname and members of the Private Sector Commission at State House.

During the interaction, opportunities for business, trade and commerce in both countries as well as the strengthening of partnerships between the private sectors of Guyana and Suriname and other areas of mutual interests, were discussed.

President Ali, in his opening remarks, said that even though President Santokhi’s visit was primarily for the Inauguration ceremony, both Governments seized the opportunity to facilitate discussions on issues that can strengthen the friendly and cordial bilateral relationship, which exists. In this regard, apart from the bilateral relationship, a consensus was reached for interactions to be had with the Private Sector with a view of advancing discussions on opportunities for both countries.

“We commenced discussions aimed at strengthening the relationship between the two countries in a wide [array of] areas including security, trade and business development. One of the priorities of President Santokhi is not only to have a strengthened relationship at the governance level but also to have a strengthened relationship at the private sector level. That is why we are here today, so that we can see in what areas the Private sector can collaborate and we are hoping that we can move towards having a Joint Commission with our private sectors in Guyana and Suriname so they can work together,” he said.

The Head of State noted that the two sides, both of which are oil producing nations, have had long discussions on the oil and gas sector, the role of Guyana and Suriname in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and how the two countries can facilitate the development of the oil and gas sector so that both countries can complement and not compete against each other.

“We have both agreed that we will aggressively move forward and will aggressively pursue an agenda of action to fulfil not only the policies and programmes of the two governments independently but more importantly, the collective policies and programmes that are beneficial to both countries,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Santokhi, in his remarks, said that there have been numerous meetings and bilateral agreements between previous Governments of both countries. However, he noted that with new Governments now in place in the two nations, the leaders are determined to see more action than talk.

“We are here today based on the expression of the will of our people. We took the responsibility as leaders to work for our people and our societies. Suriname and Guyana have a lot of similarities and commonalities as a nation and people. We want to build on this by having a very comprehensive and sustainable programme for cooperation in several areas. We are not here only to discuss but we are here to act and deliver results to our people. We will have a very strong, high level platform to set up a broad package of activities, which will be implemented by the two countries jointly in all areas of cooperation,” he said.

The Surinamese President noted that the private sector will be the backbone of the countries’ economic development and cooperation and must therefore take the lead in these efforts.

“There will be an opportunity for a physical bridge but today we are creating a bridge for the private sector, the community, for the people, for all sectors,” he said.

Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Captain Gerry Gouveia, in brief remarks, said that he is pleased with the initiative and looks forward to working with the Private sector of Suriname in the coming months.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Hugh Todd, Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill and Minister of Tourism, Ms. Oneidge Waldron, were also present.

Following the breakfast meeting, the two Presidents hosted a Press Conference, where they updated the media on their discussions and the overarching plans for the future.