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Former President David Granger said the PPP administration has dropped the ball in deeping this country’s economic diplomacy.
According to a press release from the PNCR speaking on his Public Interest Programme on Friday, Granger said the Caribbean basin has been a large, lucrative and long-standing market for Guyana’s fish, fruit, rice, sugar and vegetables and it is disheartening to witness the lack of governmental interest in the Region. He said farmers, fishermen, food-processors and traders need support to expand economic access.
Granger believes Guyana should boost its economic diplomacy by paying more, not less, attention to the Caribbean Region.
Mr. Granger reminded that his APNU+AFC coalition administration aimed at economic and regional objectives, achieving much in this regard.
According to the release Granger contends that the PPP administration is attempting to conduct economic diplomacy without diplomats. He deplored the fact that Guyana has chosen not to appoint a resident ambassador in Brasilia and Caracas for the time being and closed its sole Caribbean High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago, acts and omissions that will only make a bad situation worse.
He said that Guyana’s national interests cannot be effectively advanced in the absence of resident ambassadors and high commissioners. The Region will continue to be a bazaar for billions of dollars worth of foreign foods while its own Caribbean Single Market and Economy languishes as an academic theory without practical diplomacy.
Diplomats, he said, should be salesmen, attending trade fairs, engaging foreign businessmen, inviting investors, leading delegations and mounting exhibitions to increase sales of Guyanese goods. On the question of diplomats, the former Head-of-State lamented that the PPP administration appointed only four ambassadors, two of whom were well-known politicians without business or diplomatic experience.
Worse still, he said, the closure of the Bertram Collins College of the Public Service and the failure to activate the Foreign Service Institute in the new Shridath Ramphal edifice will deprive the country of trained diplomats needed to drive our foreign economic relations. Foreign service officers need to be trained in commerce, economics and management in the Institute, not just in attending conferences. The PPP administration, if it is to be useful, must first move to train and appoint diplomats and refocus its attention on the nation’s economic interests.