Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
U.S. Commercial Service Agribusiness Webinar
May 10, 2021
Thank you, Yamilee, for your kind introduction.
Your Excellency President Irfaan Ali, Your Excellency Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha, my colleagues from the United States Department of Commerce, distinguished guests and participants, good morning. I’m excited to speak with you today about opportunities in Guyana’s agriculture sector as the country embarks on its remarkable economic transformation. Thank you to the Department of Commerce for coordinating this event.
If you are participating in today’s event then you are likely aware of how unique Guyana is. Located on South America’s northeastern coast, Guyana is the only English-speaking country on the continent but culturally and politically part of the Caribbean. Most of Guyana’s 783,000 inhabitants live along the coastline and approximately 85 percent of the country’s total land area is covered by forest and is undeveloped.
Guyana’s economy grew by 43.5 percent in 2020, the only country in the Caribbean to register positive GDP growth. Despite a crash in global oil prices and economic headwinds brought on by COVID-19, Guyana’s nascent oil production made it the fastest growing economy in the world. Its gross domestic product is projected to grow by 16.4 percent in 2021 with inflation projected to hover around 2 percent. While non-oil and gas sectors of the economy contracted by 6 percent in 2020, agriculture is expected to grow rapidly in 2021.
Transparent trade and investment policies spur economic growth and are a key driver of economic diversification. The government is aggressively investing in its power generation infrastructure, aiming to cut the cost of energy in half from $0.34/kilowatt hour to $0.15 kwh.
Agriculture accounts for a fifth of Guyana’s economy, and employs a significant portion of the population. Investment in areas such as cold chain storage and transportation, food processing, farming equipment, and logistics solutions not only improve Guyana’s infrastructure but also create opportunities for U.S. exporters interested in the Guyanese market.
This is a time of unprecedented opportunities. Taking full advantage of these opportunities requires not only natural resources and human capital, but also a stable, transparent, and business-friendly regulatory and investment climate. When companies make decisions on where to do business around the world, they seek out those markets where the business environment is rules-based and predictable. We stand ready to partner with Guyana to strengthen the institutions and regulatory frameworks that will make Guyana an even more attractive place to do business.
We are pleased to partner with Guyana during this exciting time in its history. To speak about the country’s ambitions, it is my honor to introduce His Excellency President Irfaan Ali, who took office in August 2020. We speak frequently about his ambitious plans for the country. Just a few weeks ago, he told Guyana’s business leaders that the government’s long-term objective is to make Guyana the economic powerhouse of the region, and emphasized the importance of diversification and partnership. Today, I hope he will also provide guidance on how U.S. agribusinesses can partner locally, and be well positioned to compete.
Your Excellency, the floor is yours.