Guyana, Suriname formally establish Private Sector Business Council
In an effort to deepen trade and bilateral relations, Guyana and Suriname have formally established a 10-member Private Sector Business Council that will be focused on the strengthening of economic ties and initiatives regarding shared interests and the creation of the envisioned Single Market and Economy.
The Guyana-Suriname Private Sector Business Council was set up by the Private Sector Commission (PSC) of Guyana and the Suriname Trade and Industry Association (VSB), having also realised the importance of the involvement of the private sector as the engine for growth and development in both countries.
The intentions of the Business Council were shared with Surinamese President, Chandrikapersad Santokhi, during a courtesy visit by the newly established Council on March 16, in Paramaribo.
President Santokhi pleaded for the relationship between Suriname and Guyana to be an example for the region.
“We will show the region how it should be done. We don’t sit next to each other as competitors but as partners,” the President said.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the PSC, Paul Cheong has described the day as historic.
“The relationship with Suriname is necessary. There are many synergies that we can achieve,” Cheong noted.
The private sector will find opportunities to collaborate in the various sectors, with the assistance of the Guyanese and Surinamese Governments, which are working on the removal of all barriers for the realisation of efficient bilateral trade.
“When we come next time, we will not come with a list of issues, but with a detailed strategy,” VSB Chairman Bryan Renten stated.
The first official council meeting was held on March 16, where ambitious but necessary targets were set, and a meeting agenda for the next 12 months was set out.
The next council meeting is slated to be held in May 2022 in Guyana after which bi-monthly meetings will be held.
The business council will have joint leadership with VSB’s Chairman, Bryan Renten, elected Chairman for the first six months, after which the chairmanship will be handed over to PSC’s Paul Cheong for the next six months.
The council consists of 10 members from the private sector of both countries.
The members from the Surinamese side are Bryan Renten, Derrick Klaverweide, Rishie Parbhudayal and Farsi Khodabux; while the members from the Guyana side are Paul Cheong, Norman Mc Lean, Ryan Alexander, Latoya Jack and Leekha Rambrich.
The establishment of the Guyana-Suriname Private Sector Business Council was paved by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the PSC and VSB several months ago.
The MoU catered for various areas of cooperation including the promotion of trade, industry and investment as a means toward economic growth. It also states that the parties will look at improved competitiveness through innovation and entrepreneurship; skills development to create solutions in education and workforce development; information and communications technology development and exchanges; and share research in agriculture with partnerships in forestry development.
Additionally, it provided for the creation of an enabling environment for the rapid and secure movement of goods; advancing their tourism sectors, and financing of large public-private projects form another part of the collaboration.
Meanwhile, an extensive plan was also outlined to enhance the synergies between businesses in the two countries. It also features partnerships for infrastructural development in key sectors such as transportation, education and oil.
An energy transition and climate change agenda is on the radar as well since it is driven by private sector involvement.
Back in 2020, President Dr Irfaan Ali and his Surinamese counterpart had both underscored the important role of the private sectors in both countries to peddle sustainable development and further strengthening bilateral ties.
According to the Guyanese Head of State, given that the two countries share the same challenges as well as resources including oil and gas, there will be a menu of areas and sectors in which they will collaborate on by sharing knowledge and information, building human resource capacity, among others.
“We can’t compete against each other in terms of different sectors but we can complement each other. So we have to have discussions on what is best on our side, and where we can concentrate our efforts and where Suriname can concentrate their efforts so we have more synergies. The purpose is to have more synergies to complement each other,” he contended.