Former Speaker of the National Assembly in Guyana, Ralph Ramkarran says the South American country can use its newfound oil wealth to increase its economic and political influence on the international stage, through a bold foreign policy that reflects its growing economic independence.
He made this comment in his weekly online column, called The Conversation Tree.
“Guyana has been blessed with the good fortune of petroleum reserves which can give it the possibility of utilizing its independence to influence economic and political developments in the region,” he stated.
He said this will not occur immediately, but when Guyana becomes a significant oil producer, capable of influencing economic development. He added that this would exponentially expand Guyana’s role in the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM). In this regard, Ramkarran said the initiative led by President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali to reduce the region’s food import bill by 25% by 2025 has attracted the attention of CARICOM. He said this is not only because of the growing importance of food and concerns about the cost, but also about Guyana’s oil wealth making it a major force in the success of the initiative.
The Government has said that oil revenues will be used to diversify the economy, to ensure there is not overdependence on the oil and gas sector. Agriculture has been identified as one of the non-oil sectors with significant potential, and the President intends for Guyana to become a major food producer.
“As in matters of the economy,” Ramkarran argued, “Guyana can begin to utilise its Independence to take the lead in establishing an independent foreign policy for the Region, while at the same time recognizing the interests and importance of the US. An independent foreign policy does not mean an anti-US foreign policy. Its means the creation of a strategy and policies to engage with the US and all other foreign agencies on behalf of the Region.”
He said that while Guyana has to continue to recognise regional unipolarity and the interests of its friends, proclaiming its independence through its foreign policy will strengthen Guyana and the region, winning international respect.