Guyanese President Dr Irfaan Ali has narrowed down the most important imperative for the Caribbean at this time as the complete rebuilding of the region's logistics and transportation model.
While highlighting that the region has all the components for a modern and emerging economy, Dr Ali argued that this critical matter of logistics and transportation needs immediate focus at this time.
Speaking at the Caribbean Investment Forum earlier this week, the Guyanese president expressed the belief that a complete rebuild of the logistics and transportation model is a priority of the region.
He told the forum, “We could create all the goods, but if you don't have the means to move the goods and the services, then you have a serious problem.”
He pointed out that his Government is in talks with the Emirates on developing a logistics hub, while Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley will be in the United Arab Emirates to work on a project called the Sea Bridge.
These projects, Dr Ali told the audience, will move people, goods, and services throughout the region. He assured that every country in the region is “committed to providing an incentive mechanism to support this logistics and transportation model”.
Fixing the problem
According to the Guyanese president, “Unless we fix this problem, in terms of logistics and transportation, we will not be able to capture the results we want to capture. We are now talking about building a bridge between Guyana and Suriname. Suriname is looking to build a bridge between Suriname and French Guiana. We are looking at building an infrastructure that will support the development within the region. So, there is the opportunity, and that is why today, as leaders in the region, we are more outward-looking.”
Although the region's population is small, Dr Ali believes that the market access it provides through its booming tourism industry allows investments to thrive. Coupled with this, he noted that the Caribbean is not only a Zone of Peace, but an “exclusive zone of tolerance and inclusiveness”, built on resilience and diversity.
He also highlighted the location of the region and its direct access to South, Central and North America.
“In almost each of these areas, we have specific investment agreements and trade arrangements that will give you a distinct advantage in pursuing your business interests,” Dr Ali stated.
Turning to Guyana's potential, President Ali spoke extensively on his country's current position, its ongoing development, and its future.
In addition to the infrastructural and logistics expansion being undertaken, the president spoke of Guyana's 18.3-million hectares of standing forests covering over 87 per cent of the country's land mass. He posited that Guyana's 92.5-gigatonnes of carbon that is conserved (forest stored) represents US$195 billion on the carbon market.
He also spoke of the country's non-oil natural resources and its potential in agriculture, especially as it relates to Caricom's reduction of its food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025 through local agriculture expansion in member states.
Guyana, like other Caricom nations, the president argued, is moving forward through the use of renewable energy and through solid, long-term investments.