Oil, local content, infrastructure, agriculture, trade, security: “Decisions will be made in interest of both countries” – President Ali

Guyanese President, Dr Irfaan Ali and his Surinamese counterpart, Chandrikapersad Santokhi on Wednesday officially commenced talks paving the way for the continuation of bilateral relations.
President Santokhi and a high-level team arrived in Guyana on Tuesday afternoon for his second official visit since taking office last year.

President Dr Irfaan Ali and Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santokhi

Day two of the four-day visit commenced with the two Presidents and their Foreign Affairs Ministers engaged in early-morning discussions. Later in the day, all the visiting officials met with their counterparts for a plenary session.
On Tuesday evening, at a cocktail and informal dinner reception, the two Presidents briefly met.
Following the reception, President Ali pointed out that he was happy for the informal session and said that he was anticipating productive meetings.
“We have a very elaborate agenda we’re working on. One that covers many areas: infrastructure, trade, agriculture, oil and gas, collaborations and finding ways in which we can enhance the prospects of both economies, and even looking at ways the economies can integrate, be more competitive and bring more opportunities to the people of both countries,” he told his press team.
President Ali said that he was also pleased with the fact that representatives from members of the Guyana and Suriname Private Sector were able to make the initial connection, which would enhance their opportunities to interact during the next few days.

Guyana’s representatives in the plenary session with their Surinamese counterparts

“And we, as leaders, have to facilitate that by creating the right environment, the right policy mix that would ensure that the Private Sectors [of both countries] are the real engines and drivers of growth and development. So, I think the framework has been set for a very productive and fruitful couple of days in which I’m sure many decisions will be made in the interest of the people of both countries,” he said.
He gave assurances that both Heads of State would continue to collaborate for the economic, social upliftment and development of the citizens from both countries.
At Wednesday’s plenary session, held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, a wide range of issues were discussed. Among those were matters relating to the oil and gas industry, infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, trade, and security.
Later today, Presidents Santokhi and Ali will hold a joint press briefing where they will update the Surinamese and Guyanese people of the progress made under the Guyana-Suriname Strategic Dialogue and Cooperation Platform (SDCP). Additionally, they are expected to launch the Guyana-Suriname Business Council while signing the protocol for cooperation in agriculture.
The Surinamese delegation includes First Lady Mellisa K Santokhi-Seenacherry; Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation (BIBIS) Minister, Ambassador Albert R Ramdin; Natural Resources Minister David Abiamofo; Agriculture, Animal and Husbandry and Fisheries Minister Parmanand Sewdien; Public Works Minister Raid Nurmohamed; Transport, Communication and Tourism Minister Albert E Jubithana; Managing Director of the State Oil Company Suriname and Advisor to the Government of Suriname, Annand KR Jagesar and several technical staff.
The Surinamese President made his first visit to Guyana for the inauguration of President Ali back in August 2020 – following the conclusion of the tumultuous five-month election process. During that visit, the two Presidents engaged in a series of meetings with stakeholders on a number of issues. In fact, the Guyanese and Surinamese Presidents met with members of the Guyanese Private Sector and diplomatic community during which business and commerce opportunities, among other mutual areas of benefit, were discussed.
As newcomers in the oil and gas sector, the two countries are looking to tap into each other’s Private Sectors to push sustainable development and further strengthen bilateral ties.
President Ali had said at the time that Guyana and Suriname must not compete but complement each other as they embark on this new development trajectory.
Meanwhile, during President Ali’s reciprocal visit to Paramaribo last November, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed to facilitate the joint bridging of the Corentyne River. (G2)