Following discussions over the last 24-hours between the newly elected Presidents of Guyana and Suriname, the two leaders announced on Sunday their intent to strengthen bilateral relations between the two South American countries that will see strategic collaboration in a number of areas going forward.
“We recognize that our countries share similar challenges, circumstances and opportunities at this moment and it is very critical and important for us to work together to find common solutions to collaborate and to support each other in tackling the challenges whilst at the same time, confronting the opportunities that the people of both countries can benefit from,” said Guyana’s President, Dr. Irfaan Ali at a joint press briefing in Georgetown.
President Ali said going forward, there is need to set out an agenda that is proactive and one that is based on deadlines and the involvement of key stakeholders in both countries, especially the private sector.
Immediate action will see collaboration between government agencies to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and also working out a strategic vision that is implementable and time-bound.
“We have laid the framework that would enable us to make use of the opportunities, that would enable us to confront the challenges, that would define the way we approach international partners, international financial institutions, the raising of capital, the management of the natural resources sector,” the Guyanese President stated.
This will see joint engagement on local content policy, sharing of information on issues of security, and the use of technology such as joint radar surveillance of the two countries’ borders
President Ali said plans are in motion to set up a working committee at the policy level and at the technical level, not only to advance discussions, but to come up with a timetable of action for their implementation. Other areas of focus will be agriculture, mining, Information Communication Technology, and most importantly, the bridging of the Corentyne River, which separates the two nations.
President Chandrikapersad Santokhi said the cooperation between the two countries will be at the highest level of the two leaders but will not be solely government to government. It will see a key role being played by each country’s private sector, as well cooperation at the community and regional levels.
“There is a large Guyanese community in Suriname which is fully integrated but there are also a lot of Surinamese companies in Guyana now. Those things are the example. Those things are the key elements on which we should build further,” President Santokhi said.
He stated that a formal agreement outlining the cooperation between the two countries will be finalized in a matter of weeks.
Guyana began producing oil last December after multi-billion-barrel oil discoveries were made offshore, and so far, three significant deepwater discoveries have been made in neighbouring Suriname, already an oil producer from shore-based resources.