Guyana, Suriname to benefit from accelerated growth & development – President Ali

– touts opportunity for more trade, partnerships during extraordinary address to Suriname’s National Assembly

On day three of his first foreign trip as Head of State, President Dr Irfaan Ali used his address to the Suriname National Assembly to tout increased bilateral trade and partnerships between Guyana and the Dutch-speaking republic, and it is expected that that address would undoubtedly accelerate growth and development of relations between the two states.

President Dr Irfaan Ali and Surinamese President Chan Santokhi (right) at the extraordinary session of the Suriname National Assembly

President Ali addressed the National Assembly, along with Suriname President Chan Santokhi and assembled diplomats, on Wednesday. According to the Head of State, this present time represents a golden opportunity to boost relations between Guyana and Suriname on an unprecedented level.
“I pledge the solidarity of my Government with the people of Suriname, and commit to working to ensure enhanced cooperation for our mutual benefit. The future of our economies is intertwined. I believe we should seize this special period to strengthen our bilateral relations,” he said.
“We have a golden opportunity to begin to dismantle the impediments through bilateral trade, especially if there are no legal obstructions. We should take advantage of both the synergies and complementarities of our economies to deepen economic and social integration. Guyana and Suriname are also part of the Caribbean Community.”
According to President Ali, the 45th Anniversary of the Republic of Suriname comes at a time when both states are positioned to take the lead in regional integration. He even gave agriculture as an area wherein this integration could take place. According to Ali, the two states could fulfill a great proportion of the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) food needs.
President Ali made it clear that Guyana and Suriname share much in common. From a historical perspective, he reflected on the shared struggles to attain political independence. He recalled that both countries also concluded elections this year, although with varying results.
“Both Guyana and Suriname held elections this year. Both governments were elected. Democracy remains the strongest ally for development. It allows our electorates to hold their governments accountable. Guyana looks forward to working with Suriname to ensure greater respect for democratic norms and values,” President Ali said.
“Democracy helps to unlock the latent potential of our economies, and to boost investor confidence. Indeed, Guyana and Suriname are totally perched to benefit from accelerated growth and development, not only through the exploitation of our natural resources, but through the abundant potential that lies in agriculture, value added, tourism and expanded trade,” he said.
According to the President, the investor-interest these resources are now garnering following the conclusion of the elections are a testament to the benefits of political independence. According to him, investors and entrepreneurs are now knocking on their doors, more eager than ever to do business.
“As Suriname celebrates and enters into the 46th year of its independence, and as Guyana prepares to celebrate its 55th year of independence next year, I believe that both of us should create a dedicated pathway that would deepen economic and social cooperation. My Government is prepared to exert its energies in working with the Government of Suriname on the creation of such a plan,” President Ali said.
Since President Ali took the reins of Government, there has been a deepening of bilateral relations with Suriname. The Suriname President has spoken of bridging the Corentyne river and, in October, came to Guyana on a state visit.
President Ali returned a visit of his own on Monday to Suriname, where a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd and his Surinamese counterpart Albert Ramdin at the Presidential Palace in Paramaribo.
Currently in the design phase, it is understood that the Corentyne River Bridge will be a flat bridge from Guyana to Long Island in the Corentyne River, and then a high-span bridge from there to the Surinamese mainland to allow for heavy marine traffic. This bridge is expected to promote the safe movement of people and products.
Moreover, it is anticipated that Long Island will become an economic hub and free zone that will also see major infrastructural development such as hotels, recreational parks, entertainment spots, tourist attractions, malls and farmers’ markets.