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Monday, April 12, 2021

T&T has been slow in moving to capitalise on Guyana oil discoveries – former trade minister

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Massive discoveries of hydrocarbon resources offshore Guyana provide a huge opportunity for neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) says former Minister of Trade and Industry in the twin island republic, Mariano Browne. However, he believes that T&T has been slow to capitalise on the growing opportunities in the new oil producing South American country and risk being outmaneuvered by investors from other countries around the world.

“It provides a huge opportunity to Trinidad which we’ve been very, very slow to capitalise on,” Browne told CNC3’s Natalee Legore this week in response to a question of whether the oil finds in Guyana poses any threat to T&T. “And the reality of that is that we should be doing a lot more work with Guyana, and this lockdown isn’t helping us because you can talk as much as you want about Zoom, business is a face-to-face activity.”

Browne went on to explain that face-to-face contact trumps any kind of virtual interaction and ultimately determines who comes out on top in negotiations.

“You can’t do that over Zoom and quite frankly, the businessmen from other parts of the world are going into Guyana, we are not,” he pointed out. “So, Guyana is an opportunity. We do have some spillover effects in Guyana, from Guyana into Trinidad, from Guyana and Suriname into Trinidad.”

He said while Chaguaramas is a hub of activity “it’s only for a couple of operations” and not across the board.

“So, we are missing an opportunity in Guyana. Guyana is going to affect us, it is not going to hurt us negatively but if we don’t have ourselves on the front lines there, then we are going to have a problem. And this lockdown is affecting business from that perspective,” the former minister stated.

Browne is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business and also served as Minister in the Ministry of Finance in T&T.

Since 2015 U.S. oil major ExxonMobil has made 18 discoveries offshore Guyana amounting to an estimated 9 billion barrels of oil equivalent resources. The country began producing oil in December 2019.

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