Guyana, Cuba sign business sector accords
By Nivedta Kowlessar
July 11, 2003
GUYANA and Cuba yesterday signed three agreements to diversify and deepen trade and economic cooperation, with officials anticipating increased interaction between the business sectors in the two countries.
The agreements are for trade; collaboration between the Guyana Office for Investment and the Center for Export Promotion of Cuba; and establishing the Guyana-Cuba Joint Business Development Council.
They were signed by Minister of Foreign Trade and International Cooperation, Mr. Clement Rohee, and Cuban Ambassador to Guyana, Mr. Jose Manuel Inclan Embade in the presence of private sector representatives at Takuba Lodge, Georgetown.
“It is my sincerest wish that the business community in Guyana will now take the initiative and interact on a much more frequent basis with their Cuban counterparts to bring the objectives of these agreements to reality,” Rohee said just before affixing his signature.
He also hoped for the “intensification of all forms of practical cooperation” in keeping with South-South objectives.
At the 21st Session of the Guyana-Cuba Joint Commission last year, representatives noted there was enormous scope for trade and investment and encouragement of beneficial networking between their business sectors.
Rohee said local businessmen have already been pursuing opportunities in Cuba, following participation in the annual Havana Trade Fair and Expo Caribe.
Sanata Textiles has identified a market for its products, and manufacturers are aware of “an attractive niche” for furniture for Cuba’s rapidly expanding hotel industry, he noted.
The just-signed agreements, the Minister observed, “mark another significant milestone” in more than three decades of diplomatic relations between Guyana and Cuba. The countries already have extensive economic and technical cooperation in the areas of health, education, fisheries and agriculture.
According to Ambassador Embade, the agreements reflect an intention by small countries to cooperate in this era of globalisation, making trade links bigger and expanding existing political cooperation.
“We think small countries like Cuba and Guyana can develop business and help each other. We think it is a very important step,” he said in the presence of representatives of the Private Sector Commission, Guyana Manufacturers Association and others.
President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Edward Boyer, who was among those witnessing the signing, said recent developments have been paving the way for more serious cooperation. He referred to a Memorandum of Understanding between a Cuban trade delegation and the Chamber, and a BWIA flight link to Cuba, which will help.
Boyer said yesterday’s agreements formalised the collaboration at the government level and will allow businessmen to interact more “to get things done. We are definitely on track with trade…”, he added, noting that Europeans and Canadians are already taking up business opportunities in the Cuban hotel industry.
Foreign Trade Officer, Ms. Jocelle Campbell, said the authorities anticipate the agreements will yield mutual benefits in the creation of private sector networking and enhanced dialogue.
They will promote information exchange on commercial, economic, legal and technical issues and other expected benefits include trade missions and fairs, industrial exhibitions and cooperation in tourism development.
Within the next few months, the 22nd Session of the Guyana-Cuba Joint Commission will be convened in Georgetown and opportunity will be taken to further identify concrete areas for the implementation of the agreements, Campbell indicated.