is taking place at the port of Georgetown,
Guyana’s capital and the location of the
Asmall nation of just 760,000 people, Guyana
has had to get used to facing big challenges.
But there are also big opportunities on offer
from its membership in the regions newly
launched single market and economy. Located
at the top of South America, where it is bordered
by Venezuela, Brazil, and Suriname, the former
British colony marked the 40th anniversary of
its independence this year. The only country
on the continent with English as its official
language, Guyana is as much Caribbean as South
American, and it is in the future of Caricom,
the Caribbean Community and Common Market, that
it is placing its best hopes.
Outside of the European Union, Caricom
is the most successful and longstanding free
trade area in the world, declares the
Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo. And
Guyana is at the very heart of Caricom. One
of the four founding members of the regional
integration movement, it is also the location
of Caricoms headquarters. Guyana
is to Caricom what Brussels is to the EU,
says Mr. Jagdeo.
The economy is back on track for growth, having
weathered the shocks it suffered last year,
including devastating floods and rising fuel
prices. The budget for 2006 predicts GDP growth
of 4.3 percent. Sugar output is expected to
increase by 28 percent and bauxite production
by a massive 77.6 percent. However, recent shifts
in trading arrangements notably EU price
cuts affecting Guyanas sugar and rice
exports have highlighted the need to
diversify and find new markets for a broader
range of products.
Agriculture is a particularly promising sector
for Guyana to develop within the new Caricom
Single Market and Economy (CSME). Densely forested
and with plenty of land suitable for farming,
Guyana has huge potential for supplying fruits,
meat, vegetables and wood to the region.
Governor of the Bank of Guyana
Samuel Hinds, Guyanas Prime Minister,
says the Guyanese have demonstrated their ability
to be competitive within Caricom. We certainly
have the competitive edge over other Caribbean
countries in agriculture-based activities, such
as farming and rearing of livestock, and also
in areas of garment manufacturing. More recently,
we have been seeking to attract call center
services, he says.
Lawrence Williams, Governor of the
of Guyana, says the CSME will provide local
and foreign investors in Guyana with a significantly
larger market than is currently available. He
explains, This will hopefully enable them
to concentrate on developing value-added products
to accelerate and guarantee access into the
global market place.
The government spent a record amount on the
public sector investment program last year in
a drive to boost competitiveness and growth.
This years budget allows for further massive
spending on Guyanas physical, social and
human infrastructure. It also includes further
provision for health, education and housing,
as well as new roads and bridges, drainage and
irrigation systems, and embraces new priorities
such as sea and river defenses.