The Canadian Government’s announcement that it will grant visa-free access to eligible travellers from 13 countries has been met with applause and an appeal from Guyana. The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI) has called upon Canada to extend this new policy to Guyana, citing the longstanding diplomatic relationship and the potential for enhanced trade.
The countries that now enjoy visa-free access to Canada mainly span Latin America and the Caribbean. They are Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Costa Rica, Morocco, Panama, Philippines, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay. Canada’s recent policy shift for these countries is not a blanket waiver of the visa requirement for nationals. Rather, it is that travellers from these countries who have either held a Canadian visa in the last 10 years or who currently hold a valid United States non-immigrant visa can now apply for an electronic travel authorisation (eTA) program, instead of a visa, when travelling to Canada by air.
The GCCI’s call for visa-free travel for Guyanese nationals does not appear to request the same conditions, but rather for all Guyanese nationals, as the United Kingdom did in October last year.
The Chamber said its call is backed by a history of strong economic and commercial ties between the two nations. With diplomatic relations dating back to 1964, Guyana is now Canada’s third-largest trading partner in the Caribbean Community, the GCCI said, and one of the fastest-growing economies globally.
With over 85,000 Guyanese citizens residing in Canada, the GCCI believes that the removal of visa barriers could boost trade relations, enhance commercial and economic ties, and mutually benefit the economies of both nations.