Guyana to work with Brazil, Suriname to develop regional energy, food security – Ali

…tells MERCOSUR about need for integration to fight pandemic, climate change

President Dr Irfaan Ali on Friday told members of the South American trade bloc, MERCOSUR, that Guyana intends to bridge the gap between the continent and the Caribbean in order to boost the region’s energy and food security.
He was at the time virtually addressing the 59th Summit of MERCOSUR hosted by Brazil.

President Dr Irfaan Ali addressing the MERCOSUR Summit

According to the Head of State, the country is poised to function as a new “energy pole” for the region in collaboration with its continental neighbours.
“Along with Brazil and Suriname, we hope to leverage our energy resources for energy security, agriculture and food security and to potentiate growth and development opportunities in the northern flank of South America,” he posited.
President Ali further informed Member States that to start this process, there will be a summit between Guyana, Brazil and Suriname very early in the New Year to discuss the development of the Corentyne frontier, the logistic importance of a deep-water harbour and the energy corridor – all of which, he noted, will not only add to the region’s energy and food security but also foster greater collaboration for trade and investment.
To this end, the Head of State reaffirmed Guyana’s support towards MERCOSUR’s efforts to foster infrastructure, integration, and increase connectivity.
He added that Guyana is a “willing partner” in enhancing the regional trade bloc’s development, as well as the country’s integration into the “South American fraternity as part of our continental destiny”.
The President further told the outgoing rotational head of MERCOSUR, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and incumbent head, President of Paraguay Mario Abdo Benítez, along with other regional leaders that lessons from the pandemic must serve as a guideline to the future.
A healthy South America, he noted, is critical to the resiliency and sustainability of the region.
“A strengthened multilateral system is needed to ensure that every region, every country, has more equitable and ready access to deal with pandemics and other threats to public health.”
He added that it is vitally important to enhance the capacity and capabilities of regional, sub-regional and national institutions in surveillance, research, and production of vaccines and other vital agents and technologies.
Although the focus was to ensure that South American nations put measures in place to safeguard the health of their people; the President pointed out that it was also important to build resiliency and reorganise economic activities with the hope of stimulating sustainable growth, improving public services and social safety nets and expanding opportunities for trade and investment.
He said regional integration must encompass a drive for sustainability and pointed to confronting, head-on, the existential threat already posed by climate change.
“The most vulnerable are at grave risk if we do not act. It is imperative that the global warming trajectory be contained within 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
The President also highlighted Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy and pointed to its many benefits.
“This strategy aims to transform Guyana’s economy to better deliver socio-economic benefits to our people by following a low carbon path while mainstreaming climate resilience, providing a model to the world of how low carbon, low deforestation, climate-resilient development can be possible and beneficial for forested countries.”
He reminded the Heads of State that as a bloc, South America should remain focused on the elements of COP26, such as the requisite mitigation ambition, adequate support for adaption and climate finance.
Working together as a regional bloc, according to President Ali, would chart the way forward to ensure that as a collective, the continent builds back “stronger and safer, to create a more equitable, secure, resilient, and sustainable future for our peoples”.
MERCOSUR, which officially translates to mean Southern Common Market, was established by the Treaty of Asuncion in 1991. The founding members include Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay; while Guyana, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Suriname are associated states. (G8)