Fast-tracking EU-Guyana business chamber on agenda as top EU official to visit

– to discuss trade, bilateral & multilateral cooperation

Bilateral political agendas, trade relations, and the setting up of a European Union-Guyana Chamber of Commerce are among the issues on the agenda this week when the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service visits the country for the first time.
According to a statement from the European Union High Commission, Helena König, who is the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service, will be in Guyana from March 15-17.
During her visit, the official will meet with President Dr Irfaan Ali and members of the Cabinet where discussions will focus on the EU-Guyana bilateral relationship. König will also interact with civil society and visit one of the projects being executed under the EU-funded Spotlight Initiative.

Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Helena König

Importantly, she will also be fast-tracking the set-up of a fully-fledged EU-Guyana Chamber of Commerce. Guyana already has Chambers of Commerce with the United States of America (USA), Canada, and the United Kingdom (UK).
Other issues on the agenda include cooperation in multilateral forums and preparations for the EU-CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) summit in July. König’s arrival in Guyana is a continuation of a visit to Barbados and St Vincent. After she leaves Guyana, she will end her Caribbean tour with a visit to Suriname.
The EU and Guyana have a fruitful committed relationship that has evolved and matured over the years. But only recently, non-resident French Ambassador to Guyana Nicolas de Lacoste had emphasised the need for Guyana to be “better known” in the European region.
Speaking exclusively with Guyana Times during his recent visit to the country, the Ambassador – who is based in Suriname – explained that in order for more French companies to bring their businesses to Guyana, the booming South American country must better promote itself in Europe.
“Guyana must be better known in France…in Europe…It’s probably easier to speak about Guyana in front of an audience of American enterprises, Canadian enterprises, and UK enterprises because Guyana is well-known in these countries. We have this deficit of knowledge in France about Guyana,” the French Ambassador had explained.
Meanwhile, in November last year, European Ambassador to Guyana, Rene van Nes revealed that works are progressing on the establishment of an EU-Guyana Chamber of Commerce.
“I want to have a chamber that provides quality support both to European countries that want to come here and Guyanese companies that have an interest in working with the EU,” the Ambassador had noted.
“Guyana is one of the most exciting places to be and to do business in and I will pass that message loud and clear to…to everyone in Europe who still has not gotten that message,” the diplomat had further highlighted.
A pressing issue for Guyana in its relations with Europe is the setting up of a local Schengen visa processing office. For some time, concern has been expressed that visas for Guyanese to travel to the EU still have to be processed in Suriname.
Former EU Ambassador to Guyana, Ponz Canto had told this publication last year that the request for an office in Guyana to process visa requests to Europe, is a reasonable one and is, in fact, being addressed by the EU.
He had cautioned, however, that the granting of Schengen visas is subject to individual member countries, not to the EU as a whole. As such, he noted that the EU doesn’t have the power to grant the visas. Ponz Canto had also expressed the hope that visa-free travel can be facilitated at some point in the future.