Lack of transport connections is biggest obstacle – Pres Lula to Caricom Heads of State

…says integration of Guiana Shield a priority for Brazil
…wants to resume diplomatic presence in Caribbean

Integration of the Guiana Shield, which will see Brazil increasing infrastructural connections with countries like Guyana, and consequently its linkages with the Caribbean region, is very much a priority for the Brazilian Government.

From left: Grenada Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, President Dr. Irfaan Ali, Brazilian President Lula DaSilva, Antigua & Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, and Bahamas Prime Minister Phillip Davies

This is according to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula DaSilva, who came to Guyana for an official visit on Wednesday.
President Lula participated in talks with regional leaders who are in Guyana for the 46th Caricom Heads of Government meeting, whom he addressed and laid out Brazil’s priorities, particularly when it comes to Guyana, the Guiana Shield, and the Caribbean.
“My friends, I heard from Prime Minister Mia Mottley that Barbados has 27 weekly flights to the UK and the US, but none to Brazil. Our biggest obstacle is lack of connections, whether by land, sea or air,” President Lula said.
Lula spoke of the Guiana Shield, which includes Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, and described it as a priority for his government. For years, there have been talks and work done at the technical level to forge closer energy, economic, security and logistical ties between these countries.
According to President Lula, focusing on the Guiana Shield would help Brazil make a positive impact on food security in the region.
“One of the priority integration and development roots for my government is the Guianese Shield, which covers Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela. We literally want to pave our way to the Caribbean. We will open corridors capable of meeting supply demands and strengthening food security in the region,” he said.

Diplomatic presence
President Lula also said he wants to see Brazil resuming a diplomatic presence in Caribbean countries. He said Brazil would this year make a contribution to the Caribbean Development Bank, and that one of his country’s policy priorities is “the connection between Brazil, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.”

Closer regional ties
Meanwhile, President Ali, as Chairman of Caricom and host of the Heads of Government, spoke of ways closer regional ties can be promoted with Brazil.
One such way is food security, with President Ali noting that Brazil can provide the region with invaluable lessons in agriculture, while there will also be numerous opportunities for investment in the region.
“(In terms of) food and nutrition security, Caricom has embarked on the 25 by 2025 Initiative with the goal of reducing the region’s food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025. We are confident that there are many avenues in which we can collaborate with Brazil,” President Ali has said.

“And (there are) invaluable lessons we can learn to maximize our agriculture and food production and our economic development. The opportunities for investment are also not to be underestimated,” President Ali outlined.
Prior to President Lula’s visit, President Ali had said the Brazilian Leader’s arrival would help accelerate work on the infrastructure for the deep-water port that would be built to reduce transportation time for food supplies to travel between Guyana, Northern Brazil and the Caribbean region, and improve regional logistics.
This was announced by President Ali during the 12th Annual Consultation with Caribbean Governors of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) last Saturday. He explained that in addition to Brazil, this infrastructure will link French Guiana to Guyana.
“We’re working with Brazil’s President Lula, who is coming in a few days…to complete the infrastructure to link a deep-water port on the Atlantic, linking Northern Brazil…and reengineering the food supply and logistics hub through Guyana, through Barbados, through Jamaica, through the entire region,
so that we can now move food south to north. So, that’s the new infrastructure we’re building, linking French Guiana. The bridge across the Corentyne River (is) under discussion; a new bridge across the Berbice River…45 bridges being constructed along the highway going into northern Brazil,” President Ali said.
Another project that will dramatically transform trade between the two neighbouring countries is the Linden-Lethem Road, which is being upgraded to an all-weather road. The contractor, Brazilian company Construtora Queiroz Galvao SA, has already been tasked with producing an asphaltic surface capable of withstanding the heavily laden lorries which currently use the thoroughfare.
The project is being funded by the CDB via a US$112 million loan, a grant to the tune of £50 million (US$66 million) from the United Kingdom under the Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (CIPF), and an input of US$12 million from the Guyana Government. (G3)