India, Caricom agree to hold annual business summit; Guyana touted as regional hub for Indian businesses

Last Updated on Sunday, 23 April 2023, 13:12 by Denis Chabrol

India’s Foreign Minister  Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar addressing the India-Guyana Business Roundtable

India’s Foreign Minister  Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Saturday said he and his counterparts of the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) agreed that there would be annual business summit aimed at boosting trade in goods and services.

“We agreed that it would be our endeavour every year to hold an India-CARICOM business summit- one year in the Caribbean, one year in India- so I’m pointing this out to CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) with the hope that it will be an early mover in this regard,” he said.

Currently on a four-day visit here, he made the announcement of the yearly summit a day after he met with CARICOM’s ministerial Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) at which the possibility of training and exchanges were discussed. The closed-door meeting was held at the Guyana-based CARICOM headquarters.

Guyana’s Finance Minister Ashni Singh encouraged Indian manufacturers to set up shop here as goods produced in Guyana are entitled to duty free access to other Caribbean common market nations and the Dominican Republic. “As a result of being a member of CARICOM, any producer based in Guyana enjoys privileged access to CARICOM markets and to other external markets with whom CARICOM has trade or economic agreements,” he said.

Seeking to woo Indian investors to Guyana, Singh said Guyana now enjoys “first movers” opportunities for the oil sectors in Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Colombia. “A presence in Guyana is not only to be viewed from the perspective of the opportunities within the domestic boundaries of Guyana but a presence in Guyana is to be viewed from the context of opportunities that lie within our neighbours, within the entire Caribbean, northern South America and beyond,” he said.

CII Chairman Jai Shroff told top Guyanese and Indian business leaders that the 9th CII-Latin America and Caribbean conference would be held in India from August 3 to 4  as Indian businesses were seeking to strengthen their foothold in the region and so he hoped that Guyanese and Caribbean businesses would be able to attend. “India and the LAC share common aspirations and challenges and there have vbee many political interactions despite the distance. Indian industry is focussing on enhancing its presence in Latin America market,” he told a business roundtable

Indian businesses from the oil and gas, infrastructure, construction, chemicals, agriculture, food processing and construction sectors. Shroff noted that Guyana is of growing international interest due to its huge oil and gas reserves. “The recent discovery of oil and gas in Guyana: There is an immense scope for cooperation and collaboration between Guyana and India,” he said, adding that there are other opportunities in agriculture and food production to ensure food security for the Caribbean.

While in Guyana, he witnessed the unveiling of the logo and the announcement of the India-Guyana Chamber of Commerce whose executive includes former Guyana and West Indies cricketer turned businessman Ramnaresh Sarwan.

The Indian Foreign Minister leaves Guyana on Monday for visits to Panama, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.