Jamaica’s Chamber in Guyana seeking business expansion

WITHIN the past two years, business and consumer confidence in Jamaica have been at an all-time high and the Jamaica Chambers of Commerce (JCC) is partnering with the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI) in seeking expansion opportunities in Guyana.

This is according to President of Jamaica Chambers of Commerce (JCC), Lloyd Distant Jnr., during his address, Monday, at the opening session of “Doing Business in Guyana” held at the Pegasus Hotel.

Adding that the JCC is 240 years old and this would be the first outward mission for the Chambers in a decade, Distant Jnr said that, as a country, Jamaica has been used as a model example by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), from a country that was in a bad position to one which has low interest and inflation rates.

“Unemployment in Jamaica is at an all-time low, just around 7.2 percent, there is a level of buoyancy. Our stock exchange in 2018 going into 2019 was rated the number one stock exchange in the world, so with little country risk, with the capital markets booming as they are, we are seeking to expand externally,” he underscored.

He said that Jamaica is the most investable country since there is no restriction on foreign ownership and on the reparation of profits, while there is a pro investment government.

“We have one of the most developed capital markets alongside an independent central bank,” he said.

He said Jamaican companies are looking for external investments and Guyana has been chosen for that growth and support.

The JCC President said, currently, there are 10 representatives in Guyana on the mission.

“The 10 persons who are here represent a multitude of industries, so they are not in all instances representing one company. We have a number of persons into technology, managed services, IT security and cloud services; a number of consulting and business support operations, trading and distributions, real estate, manufacturing as well as legal services in particular arbitration and dispute resolution,” Distant Jnr said.

He said a successful mission is anticipated and there is at least going to be another mission for manufacturers and exporters later in the year.

“When we first put out the message that we were coming to Guyana, within 24 hours there were over 20 businesses reaching out saying they were interested,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senior Vice President of the GCCI, Timothy Tucker, expressed his appreciation to the JCC and GCCI secretariat in ensuring the trade mission was realized as the programme was expected to meet the objectives of stakeholders in Guyana.

He said the trade mission will enable the business community to have an insight into available trade and investment opportunities in both countries.

“We are heartened to have the companies represented here from Jamaica and equally impressed at the diverse range of services that they have brought. Guyana’s new status as an oil producing country will have significant impact on the region and as such we believe that this a special opportune time to work together to further the Jamaica/Guyana economic partnership,” he said.

Tucker informed the gathering that the GCCI was founded in 1889 by an Act of Parliament. It was the oldest and largest private sector organisation in Guyana, with a membership of over 300 large, medium, small and micro enterprises that employ thousands of persons across all sectors.

“The GCCI’s primary objectives are to advocate policies, stimulate trade and investment, connect businesses, sustain economic growth and expand member opportunities. We also have a category of non-resident members,” he said.

Through the GCCI’s trade and investment committee, Tucker said the chambers continue to facilitate inward and outward missions in order to give Guyanese companies the opportunity to explore regional and international business opportunities.

He said inward and outward missions were spearheaded over the years among the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“The feedback received was that the missions were successful as linkages were forged between companies and issues of trade were discussed in an attempt to gain mutual understanding of the market and regulations of both parties. During that time MOUs were signed with organisations,” he noted.

He explained that Guyana and Jamaica continue to maintain a positive relationship as Guyana exported US$59.61M in 2018 to Jamaica which represented 1.7 percent of total exports out of Guyana.

Adding that Guyana is a lucrative market for Jamaica, Tucker said there are numerous trade and investments to be explored between the two countries.

“In 2020, the benefits in linking potential exporters to potential importers, exploring joint venture initiatives and long-term relationships between Jamaica and Guyana will remain relevant,” he said while urging the gathering to continue such initiatives.

He emphasized that not enough was being done regionally, “and it’s a feeling that CARICOM is asleep,” since regional integration is suffering since the purpose of CARICOM is to bring the region together.

The Senior Vice President of the GCCI has questioned the relevance of CARICOM since there was no fostering of open relationships between countries to optimize growth in the Caribbean.

“There are non-tariff barriers placed by member states, even some member states are experiencing economic colonialism. I urge other CARICOM members to take the example [of what exists between Jamaica and Guyana] and the way, over the years, [how they have looked] at each other and I hope the relationship improves and gets better with stronger ties,” he explained.

(Sourced from Guyana Chronicle 28-01-2020)

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