Last Updated on Thursday, 31 August 2023, 13:32 by Denis Chabrol
The United States (US) is on a multi-pronged push-back against China’s expanding financial footprint here and the rest of the Caribbean, outgoing United States Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch said Thursday.
“We’ve tripled the bilateral trade over the last few years so I think we are here we are strong, and we will remain here,” she told reporters at a news briefing as her almost five-year long tour of duty here winds down.
Ms Lynch conceded that China’s financial presence in Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean was expanding but the US Embassy was aggressively pushing guarantees of value for money from American companies. “Clearly, the China footprint is growing in Guyana, as well as the broader Caribbean,” she said.
The American envoy said not only American companies but also from other countries have been exploring investment opportunities in agriculture, Information Technology, tourism, manufacturing. But she advised Guyanese companies to take advantage of business opportunities with American companies because of inherent advantages. “US companies bring some unique things to any country in which they invest, and that’s quality, excellence on time on budget projects and high standards of safety so I think all those things are important for Guyanese local companies to think about when they’re considering which US companies they want to partner with and it’s important for the Guyanese people to know that US companies what they bring to the table,” she said.
Asked if she thought the US’ offer of US$5.5 million to the Caribbean was sufficient when compared to China, Ambassador Lynch said Washington’s offer to the Caribbean was a mix of cash, advice and private sector investments. At the government-to-government/ regional level, she said assistance was being provided through the US Department of Agriculture, Treasury Department, Summits of the Americas and US-CARICOM collaboration on energy security, food security and access to finance.
Except for the almost US$760 million gas-to-shore energy and natural gas liquids plants that are being built by American companies CH/LINDSAYCA for the Guyana government, most other huge government infrastructural projects are being awarded to China and to a lesser extent India.
On the question of whether the national procurement and tender administration process favours Chinese companies, Ms Lynch said American companies were being educated about the processes which was being continuously improved. She recommended that the procurement process be digitised as part of efforts to keep pace with the growing number of investors. “Guyana has been able to attract many investors already, but at the rate at which companies are coming here to look at the opportunities I think the more the country can do to modernize to digitize to have a process that’s easy to navigate. For companies that will be a guy on the stage,” she said.
Over the years, Chinese companies have been contracted to build the new Demerara Harbour Bridge, roads, the building that houses the Marriott Hotel, electricity sub-stations, the Arthur Chung Conference Centre and the upgrade of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri.
During last month’s visit to China, President Irfaan Ali committed to concluding the Joint Action Plan on Promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative with Beijing.
Latin Research Professor at the U.S. Army War College, R. Evan Ellis earlier this month said the US should not be worried about Guyana’s close relations with China. “The US has a strategic interest in working respectfully, yet attentively, with Guyana as its newfound oil wealth continues to transform it, to preserve the vitality of Guyana’s friendship with the US, even as it engages with the PRC and others as well,” he said.
Ambassador Lynch, who would be taking up an assignment at the United States’ Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Florida, would be succeeded by Nicole Theriot.