Investments, energy, security to be discussed by Presidents Ali, Bolsonaro, Santokhi

…as bilateral meeting set in Paramaribo on Thursday
…Brazilian President to visit Guyana on Friday

This week will be a packed one when it comes to the Guyana Government’s foreign policy agenda, with President Dr Irfaan Ali due to visit Suriname for bilateral talks with Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santokhi and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, after which Guyana will host the Brazilian President.
According to information coming out of Brazil, President Ali will join the Brazilian and Surinamese Heads of State for a working lunch in Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname, on Thursday where they will discuss “projects of common interest.”
“The presidential trip occurs in the context of strengthening bilateral relations, in a scenario of resumption of strategic dialogue between the governments and prospects for greater economic and social development in Suriname and Guyana, driven by recent oil and gas discoveries,” a statement from the Ministério das Relações Exteriores (Brazilian Foreign Ministry) said.

President Dr Irfaan Ali

It was explained by the Ministry that the three Presidents “will review topics on the bilateral agendas in the areas of trade, investments, energy, infrastructure, security, defence, technical cooperation and regional issues.”
The Ministry noted that following the trip to Paramaribo, Bolsonaro will make an official visit to Georgetown, Guyana, on Friday at the invitation of President Ali. It will be the first time Bolsonaro has visited Guyana, although he has previously met President Ali, such as on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN).
Meanwhile, the Office of the President also sent out a statement regarding the Brazilian Head of State’s visit. According to their statement, the visit of Bolsonaro and his team will last for one day and will feature discussions on developmental issues.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

“Discussions will centre on improving economic relations, energy and food security, telecommunications, agriculture, infrastructure integration and the development of a deep-water harbour in Guyana.”
“Since Guyana offers the shortest and quickest access to the Atlantic for significant parts of northern Brazil, a road connection linked to the deep-water port could also serve the interest of both countries,” the Office of the President said.
It was noted by the office that when the two leaders spoke last Monday via teleconference, they had discussed enhancing the partial scope agreement between their nations with the hope of bolstering trade. They had also deliberated on topics for further engagements at the ministerial levels.

Private Sector primed and ready
Meanwhile, Guyana’s Private sector is also primed and ready for the Brazilian President’s visit, with Private Sector Commission (PSC) Chairman Paul Cheong noting that Guyana can benefit tremendously from closer ties with Brazil, in areas ranging from infrastructure to energy. He also referenced the similarities in the agricultural potential in the two countries and said that knowledge can be exchanged in this regard.

Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santokhi

“Brazil is our neighbour. It’s a large country with a large population and market. Guyana, we’re a developing country. There’s a lot we can learn from Brazil. Agriculture, Guyana has a lot of potential in agriculture. Brazil, we can learn so much from them. Soya bean, Guyana is now embarking on that. Brazil has been doing that for years. And they’ve done research.”
“The linkages between Guyana and Brazil can also create a lot of opportunities, in terms of building a deep-water harbour, the road from Georgetown to Lethem. A large part of Brazil is landlocked. They don’t have access to port facilities. And we can develop port facilities that can cater to Brazil, but also piggy back on that,” Cheong said.
Among the projects planned for the Guiana Shield that requires bilateral cooperation between Guyana, Suriname and Brazil is a deep-water harbour that is likely to be built by Abu Dhabi Ports.

Also likely to be on the agenda is the Corentyne River bridge. Already, bids for a feasibility study and preliminary design for the Public Private Partnership (PPP) construction of the bridge were opened last week, with a number of companies tendering their proposals.

Among the companies were TYPSA in joint venture with Leonhardt, Andra Und Partner GmbH and Firm Engineering NV; Exp Services Inc in joint venture with Pedelta Arcadia and CEMCO; WSP Caribbean Limited and lastly, EGIS.
The construction of a bridge linking Guyana and Suriname is a priority project for the governments of both countries as has been reiterated on several occasions by their Excellencies, President Irfaan Ali and President Chan Santokhi.
The Governments of Guyana and Suriname have jointly agreed to realise the construction the Corentyne River bridge using the Public Private Partnership method of procurement with a DBFOM (Design – Build – Finance – Operate – Maintain) model contract. The deadline for submission of proposals by the shortlisted consultancy firms has been set to December 21, 2021.
In October 2020, Public Works Minister Juan Edghill and his Surinamese counterpart, Dr Riad Nurmohamed had visited the site of the proposed Guyana-Suriname river bridge across the Corentyne River.
There were three points of demarcation identified – Moleson Creek and Long Island in the Corentyne River and South Drain in Suriname. Both Ministers planted flags on the Guyana side of the river and then the Suriname side of the river – where the bridge is to be constructed.
After planting national flags of the two countries, Nurmohamed, Edghill and the team of engineers and technical personnel stopped at Long Island in the Corentyne River and also planted flags of the two countries there.
Then in November 2020, Guyana and Suriname signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the construction of the bridge. The MoU was signed by Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Hugh Todd, and his Surinamese counterpart, Albert Ramdin, at the Presidential Palace in Paramaribo.
In February 2021, the Governments of Guyana and Suriname had invited companies to submit Expressions of Interest (EoIs) to provide consultancy services for the conduct of a feasibility study and the preparation of detailed designs for the construction of the bridge.
The Corentyne River bridge will not only link the two neighbouring countries, but also open up access to greater economic opportunities beyond them into French Guiana, and through the road network being developed into Brazil, and eventually further into South America.

Meanwhile, President Ali and a team of Government officials met with a group of Surinamese investors at the Office of the President on Shiv Chanderpaul Drive on Tuesday. The delegation discussed a range of investment opportunities in the hospitality industry and the agriculture sector.
President Ali was joined by Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh; Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha; Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond and the Head of the Guyana Office for Investment, Dr Peter Ramsaroop. (G3)