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– as U.S aims to remain Guyana’s top trading partner
With the U.S aiming to be Guyana’s top trading partner and partner of choice, there continues to be a growing interest in the country’s Oil and Gas Sector, and according to Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch, the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU), with a membership of over 200 companies, has keen interest in more than just petroleum.
“I get calls from U.S. companies regularly. Just last week, I met with the Business Council for International Understanding, a U.S.-based organization founded under President Eisenhower, whose members include Fortune 500 companies interested in what Guyana has to offer. The company representatives inquired about a broad range of investment opportunities including investment in the oil and gas sector, housing and urban development, environmental resiliency, satellite imagery and security services, just to name a few,” Ambassador Lynch said.
The US Ambassador was among keynote speakers during the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Guyana’s 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) held virtually on Friday. President Irfaan Ali; Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh; and President of AmCham Guyana, Zulfikar Ally were among the other keynote speakers.
While AmCham Guyana has been playing a critical role in bridging the gap by linking Guyanese businesses with those in the US, Ambassador Lynch said there are critical issues that ought to be addressed, as she pointed to the World Bank’s 2020 report on Ease of Doing Business, in which the country ranked 134 out of 190 countries.
“Some of the contributing issues include taxation, high energy costs, inadequate infrastructure, outdated intellectual property rights (IPR), bureaucracy, perceived corruption, and citizen security concerns,” the US Ambassador explained while challenging all and sundry to work collectively to improve the country’s ranking in 2021.
President Ali, in his address, said, cognizant of the challenges, his Government has initiated a long term plan that would result in a robust business environment that would generate wealth while simultaneously creating much needed jobs.
Greater ease in doing business, improved national competitiveness, greater market access, support for small business development, consumers’ protection and enhanced business infrastructure are among goals to be achieved by the Ali Administration.
The Amaila Falls Hydro Power Project, the Deepwater Harbour, the all-weather road linking Linden and Lethem and the Parika, Rockstone to Del Conte Road are among multimillion dollar projects in the pipeline, the President said, while assuring the business men and women that the electricity and connectivity concerns are high on the agenda to be addressed.
“We are fashioning a conducive business climate. In order for economic wealth to be distributed more equitably, that wealth has to be first created. If the economic pie does not grow, the less there will be for distribution. The larger the economic pie, the more there will be to share,” President Ali said.
Meanwhile, the President of AmCham Guyana said while 2020 has proven to be an extraordinary challenging year, he was pleased to report that the chamber weathered the storm, and forged ahead with its plans and programmes.
“We have remained committed to our members and potential members by advocating on their behalf with relevant policy makers, provided opportunities for networking and partnerships and most importantly provide a platform for our members to continue their corporate social responsibility, a responsibility that is at the core of what we are and what we will continue as a collective body to spread throughout Guyana,” Ally said.
In its quest to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, AmCham is in the process of retooling its mobile App to efficiently and effectively communicate with members, and already its website has been re-launched to provide real time updates and information.
“It is our goal in the coming year to encourage our members, especially US Firms to make it a priority to aid in the transfer of technology to the local private sector, to work with them collaboratively to enhance their capabilities and skills, and train Guyana’s talented human resources in the technological and transformative ways of working and conducting business,” he said.
Ally added: “Importantly the need for international best practices, compliances and certifications that are needed to do business cannot be overstated. It provides a disadvantage to local companies to participate in contracts especially in the oil and gas sector and it is also a great deal of frustration for investors who are bound by policies and international best practices to ensure they only hire firms that are in compliance with these requirements.”
According to him, the chamber has started to put plans in place to bridge that gap between its American members and those that are Guyanese owned.