GCCI says foreign investors welcomed ‘in spirit of fairness’

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In June 2017 a delegation from Trinidad and Tobago visited Guyana and met with members of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In photo: (L) Navin Seeterram, Trade and Business Development Manager, TT Chamber and Deodat Indar, President of GCCI at the 2017 meeting.

A week after calling for close scrutiny of a Memorandum of Understanding Guyana is set to sign with Trinidad and Tobago, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry is making it clear that it is not anti-investment.

The Chamber expressed concern last week that the MoU could pave the way for TT companies to flood the Guyana market in search of oil and gas opportunities, which, in the absence of a local content policy or legislation being in place, could put local companies at a disadvantage. This view was triggered by a comment made by TT Prime Minister, Keith Rowley that the MoU will in fact “open the way” for TT companies to participate in Guyana’s prosperity.

In a statement on Monday, GCCI said it would like to publicly state that it remains supportive of foreign investors to Guyana. “The GCCI believes that foreign investors have played, and continue to play, an integral role in driving economic growth and national development. In an era of global business, the benefits of international cooperation in key areas of private sector development are undeniable,” the Chamber said.

Technology transfer, skills development, international markets for goods and services are a few areas where readily, the engagement of foreign investors and companies can bode well for private sector development, the business group stated.

“As an organization, the GCCI has always been welcoming to foreign investors and foreign companies. Recently, the Chamber has embarked on a series of internationalization efforts, signing Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with several countries – India, Canada and Cuba. The benefits of these MoUs are currently being realized through bilateral Trade Facilitation Councils which seek to promote international engagement for the mutual benefit of the countries’ private sector,” the Chamber said.

Through this mechanism GCCI said several of its members have benefitted from joint ventures and partnerships. These endeavours have facilitated an acceleration of the learning curve and reduction in the learning costs of these businesses. These mechanisms have undeniably improved businesses in Guyana.

“The GCCI remains receptive to foreign companies and foreign investors, especially those which are interested in partnerships with Guyanese companies. However, it must be stated that this openness is based on the principles of equity and fairness and must be done in an atmosphere that is mutually beneficial. In particular, the Chamber is supportive of partnering with its Caribbean brothers and sisters in the spirit of regionalism, especially Trinidad and Tobago in the oil and gas sector, to effect a stronger, more integrated, Caribbean community. We continue to welcome all our Caribbean counterparts to the Chamber as Guyana remains open for business,” the Chamber added.

In June 2017 a 25-member trade delegation from neighbouring Trinidad & Tobago visited Guyana and met with members of GCCI.

President of the Chamber, Deodat Indar, told OilNOW at the time that the Guyanese business community would be open to a “buddying system” that allows for Trinidadian companies to link up with those in Guyana to pursue opportunities in the sector. “We are advocating strongly for a buddying system, whereby Trinidadian companies could find a working partner in Guyana, and by doing that, they will bring the Guyanese businesses in the loop and training and development can happen for that Guyanese company so that they can learn fast.”

GCCI maintains that such a system would be the most beneficial to Guyana since it would allow for the transfer of knowledge and specialized skills in oil and gas.