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RICH IN NATURAL RESOURCES AND WITH AN ECONOMY BACK ON THE GROWTH TRACK, GUYANA IS READY TO DIVERSIFY ITS EXPORTS AND IS LOOKING FOR FOREIGN INVESTMENT TO DEVELOP ITS POTENTIAL
Big opportunities in the ‘Brussels of Caricom’

Rapid expansion is taking place at the port of Georgetown, Guyana’s capital and the location of the Caricom headquarters.

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 region’s 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 Caricom’s 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 Guyana’s 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.

BHARRAT JAGDEO
SAMUEL HINDS LAWRENCE WILLIAMS
BHARRAT JAGDEO
President
SAMUEL HINDS
Prime Minister
LAWRENCE WILLIAMS
Governor of the Bank of Guyana

Samuel Hinds, Guyana’s 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 Bank 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 year’s budget allows for further massive spending on Guyana’s 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.