State, private sector officials being ‘prepped’ for July Caribbean Investment forum

If there remains an acute recognition that, in terms of facilities associated with international gatherings, Guyana still lags behind many of its Caricom counterparts, the republic’s bona fides as the region’s now fastest growing economy has made it the current choice of destinations in the region for the hosting of major international conferences on regional and international business issues. That is mainly the country’s credentials as a ‘bright star’ as the global oil and gas industry has turned the country into a magnet for international gatherings that has to do with business issues.

This, notwithstanding the country’s patent deficiency in terms of facilities suitable for such salubrious gatherings. Hence, the country’s oil and gas ‘summits’, designed primarily to attract potential investors to investment opportunities that extend beyond oil and gas, are usually ‘hosted’ by the country’s two best-appointed hotels, the Pegasus and the Marriott. Beyond that, there is usually no great eagerness on the part of attendees at these gatherings to encounter the congestion and, these days, increasingly, the chaos of the country’s capital, George-town.

Attendees at the opening ceremony of the Oil and Gas conference

Still, it is what Guyana’s oil – driven circumstances offers the international community that counts, and these days, the country attracts journalists from suitably prestigious international media houses that file stories that have to do with more than rigged elections and crumbling infrastructure.  Still struggling to improve the bona fides of a run-down capital currently undergoing something of a remake, Guyana is preparing to host the hugely significant Caribbean Investment Forum from July 10-12 in its now makeover-driven capital.

A handful of years ago, the choice of location for an event that has been tagged as a key business forum for collaboration, would not have seen Guyana on a short list (or even a somewhat longer one) of candidates for such a significant forum. These days, it is what Guyana offers in terms of investment potential that brings high-profile business and investment here, never mind the fact that a capital city immersed in makeover can be hard to take for visitors accustomed to higher standards. 

Unsurprisingly, Georgetown will be the venue for the July 10-12 Caribbean Investment Forum, an engagement that has been described as a key one for “business collaboration and development” in the region. Run down capital and logistical irritants, notwithstanding, the forum is likely to attract its customary huge inflow of participants from the region and beyond.

Officially, we are told that the forum, which will be held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), currently the ‘go to’ state-owned facility for such meetings, will focus on “sustainable agriculture, green economy transition and digitalization of business.” This may be so, officially, though, these days, international fora staged in Guyana offer opportunities for discreet ‘side agendas’ engagements between eagle-eyed potential investors and state officials on issues that extend beyond the specific agendas set out by the organizers.

With regard to the July 10-12 forum, Dr. Peter Ramsaroop, Head of the Guyana Office for Investment [GOINVEST], the state agency officially responsible for investment inquiries was quoted as saying recently that with regard to the upcoming forum, Guyana expects that “a lot of investors coming to see what is this about Guyana and we are pushing the private sector. There is a call out for bankable projects because investors are coming looking for bankable projects and we want to showcase what Guyana is all about,” the state official has been quoted as saying recently. Ramsaroop is just one piece in a puzzle that reportedly includes key political players holding decision-making clout in matters of investment.

A comment emanating from a section of the state media quotes Ramsaroop as saying that Guyana’s top priorities, going forward, include agriculture and food security, though whether these are in line with the preoccupations of overseas investors is unclear. The official line here is that Guyana is much more concerned with realizing the target of a 25% reduction in extra-regional food importation by 2025, a target which, reportedly, it seeks to realize through upgraded excursions into agriculture. If there is any likely ‘salvation’ for would-be investors traveling to Georgetown for the July forum then that, presumably, reposes largely in what the GOINVEST official proffered are likely “partnerships” particularly in sectors like tourism.

Seemingly conceding that the local private sector may be somewhat ‘off the pace’ in terms of effectively engaging their external ‘big league’ international counterparts across the table, Dr. Ramsaroop also reportedly said that preparations for encounters between the local private sector and their overseas counterparts during the July “will include a plan to partner with IDB to guide the local private sector, briefing them on conference requirements and preparing them accordingly.”


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