Remarks by Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
Official Opening of AMCHAM Guyana Office
Tuesday, March 20, 2019
- Carl Greenidge, Minister of Foreign Affairs performing the functions of the President of Guyana
- Ministers of Government
- Leader of the Opposition
- Members of Parliament
- Chairman of AmCham-Guyana Zulfikar Ally and members of AmCham-Guyana
- Members of the Diplomatic Corps
- Members of the Private Sector and Civil Society
- Members of the Media
- Distinguished Guests
A very good evening to you all.
Thank you, Zulfikar, for those warm words of welcome. It certainly is wonderful to be at this important event this evening.
Since this is my first opportunity to address such an audience in Guyana, I would like to take a moment to tell you about myself. As the Master of Ceremonies said, I was accredited as the United States Ambassador to Guyana this past Wednesday. Prior to my arrival here, I served for 26 years at USAID, with overseas assignments in Bangladesh, Peru, Afghanistan, and Iraq, as well as many Washington assignments. Most recently, I was Acting Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean. In that role, my team and I developed and implemented strategies to help promote democratic processes, generate economic prosperity, reduce crime and violence, support civil society, defend universal rights, and protect the environment in the Western Hemisphere. Specifically, I worked closely with host governments, civil society, the private sector, development banks, and international organizations to help them all achieve enduring results. I am, therefore, no stranger to the unique factors impacting economies in this region and look forward to delving into the specifics of the Guyanese landscape, including its investment climate.
At every U.S. Embassy in the world, it is an unwritten tradition that new ambassadors give their first public remarks to the American Chamber of Commerce. I am following this tradition, not just because of the serendipitous timing of this event commemorating the official opening of AmCham’s office, but because of the importance of businesses of all sizes. I am thrilled to be able to engage with the local AmCham right from the start of my tenure. Globally, AmChams promote and create bilateral trade, business opportunities, and partnerships. These objectives are among my top priorities for my Mission, so it is very gratifying to have a local partner committed to the same goals. We see a long future of continued economic cooperation between the United States and Guyana and will do all we can to expand economic opportunities and promote growth across all sectors.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell all of you that this is a very important moment in Guyana. Now, more than ever, Guyana’s private sector is carving out its role in a new and exciting era in the country’s development trajectory. Thus far, AmCham-Guyana has already had several notable successes. From taking this organization from a mere idea to an official affiliate in record time and exponential growth of its membership since its August 2018 founding, to its already diverse and impactful civil engagement, AmCham-Guyana has shown that it intends to be an active stakeholder committed to seeing growth and development in Guyana. Both American and Guyanese companies will benefit from the dedication and commitment of this organization, as will the people of Guyana and the United States.
While the recent oil discoveries, now totaling an estimated 5.5 billion barrels, are what have catapulted Guyana onto the global stage, this country’s economy is much more than oil. This is evident in the fact that the GDP has seen positive growth for at least the last 10 years. Beyond oil, Guyana can also leverage and develop its other industries to include tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, non-oil extractive industries, and other services. And there is a bright future here for renewable energy, too. It is apparent that Guyana is working hard to seize the moment.
As such, foreign investment is likely to greatly increase in the coming years. Guyana has vast untapped resources, so the potential is enormous. Together with sound democratic governance and an independent and active civil society, the private sector here has the opportunity to thrive, and Guyana has the opportunity to become one of the wealthiest countries in the hemisphere.
In that vein, I congratulate the people of Guyana and their government for
establishing a Sovereign Wealth Fund. No matter what the future holds for the law itself, having a sovereign wealth fund in place from the first day of production is needed to protect 100% of the people’s patrimony. This includes not only profits from the oil that has already been discovered, but also from new discoveries.
A sovereign wealth fund will provide Guyana with the opportunity to invest in its long-term future as well as today’s infrastructure, health and education, and security. There must, therefore, be a balance between short-term and long-term goals. Prudent management of incoming revenues will ensure that investments by the government in its people do not simply last for as long as oil is pumped out of the ground, but beyond that, for the next 30, 50, even 100 years, through the creation of diverse new industries and projects.
While I have the floor, I want to highlight another collaborative effort from this year between Guyana’s private sector and the U.S. Embassy. Last June, Guyana’s private sector became part of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (or OSAC) by setting up its own Country Council. These councils focus on a range of issues, including business and information security, as well as intellectual property rights. What initiatives like AmCham and OSAC show is that Guyanese businesses and entrepreneurs are being pro-active in positioning their country to engage successfully in the global business environment. The private sector is not only reaching out and building linkages and cooperation with businesses and organizations across the world, it is also looking at how to become more competitive and develop strong and innovative local content for emerging markets. For this, I commend you.
In closing, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to AmCham-Guyana, its Board, and its members. I offer my Mission’s very best wishes for AmCham-Guyana’s continued success. I look forward to seeing the new and exciting ventures that will be powered by AmCham-Guyana and the private sector as a whole. Thank you again for this very warm welcome, and please continue to enjoy this wonderful reception.