Guyana asks EU to make trade easier; business chamber in the making

Last Updated on Tuesday, 9 May 2023, 22:31 by Denis Chabrol

EU Ambassador to Guyana Rene Van nes and President Irfaan Ali toast to mark Europe Day 2023. Looking on are the EU Ambassador’s wife Mrs Jeannette van Bodegraven and Prime Minister Mark Phillips.

A European Union (EU)-Guyana Chamber would soon be established to ease bottlenecks in the trade in goods and services between the two sides, a top EU envoy said Wednesday, prompting a call by President Irfaan for help to meet European standards.

“For those of you who find the European market a bit daunting, I have good news. We will soon launch the EU Guyana Business Chamber,” EU Ambassador to Guyana Rene van Nes told a Europe Day reception.

He explained that the the Chamber would focus on strengthening ties between the Guyanese and European businesses and facilitate European businesses that are setting up or are active in Guyana.  He said the newest business organisation would support Guyanese corporates to navigate the European business landscape.

No date was mentioned for the launch of the chamber.

President Irfaan Ali, in his address at the event, urged the EU to assist Guyana to become compliant with that single market’s standards. “What we would like now is for the Ambassador to work with us on ensuring that, as we develop our systems, that we have all the requirements that would ensure the ease of doing business and trade with the European Union. The infrastructure and institutions must be within the standards that the European Union accept but must be helped to ensure that those standards are easily met and hurdles are not placed in the path of expanding our trade with the EU,” he said.

British, Canadian and American businesses have established chambers in Guyana in recent months.

Dr Ali observed that the EU’s private sector is “becoming more active here in Guyana”, suggesting that that should be a stimulus for Guyana’s business community to take advantage of opportunities in the EU. “We want the local private sector also to become active in the EU because there are tremendous opportunities in the UK (United Kingdom) and in the European Union for Guyanese and Guyanese products for our local private sector,” Dr Ali.

The Guyanese leader challenged locals to take advantage of “enormous” opportunities for organic food and tourism, even as he referred to the closing of the transportation gap between Guyana and Europe with flights to the UK. “I know the UK took a step away but it is still an important part of what the UK represents and we have that connectivity so I would say to our local private sector that there is enough opportunity for you to look beyond borders and to find strategic partnership,” he said.

Putting aside the oil and gas sector, he said there are investment possibilities in food security and agriculture, climate and environmental services, health sector support.