India waives Guyana debt
Jagdeo calls for closer ties
Stabroek News
August 26, 2003

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India yesterday waived outstanding debt of Rs.29 million (US$640,000) due from Guyana on the first credit line of Rs.100 million (US$2.2M) extended to it 14 years ago as the two sides agreed to bolster co-operation in education, culture and other fields.

According to reports in the Indian press, after delegation-level and one-to-one talks between visiting President Bharrat Jagdeo, who is on a six day state visit, and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vaj-payee, the two sides signed three accords.

The agreement providing for the debt waiver was signed by Clement Rohee, Minister of Foreign Trade and International Co-operation and India’s External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha.

An accord for an educational exchange programme was inked by Rohee and Human Resource Develop-ment Minister Murli Manohar Joshi while another providing for a three-year cultural ex-change programme from this year was signed by Sinha and Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Gail Teixeira.

The two leaders discussed a host of issues covering bilateral, regional and international developments.

India is exploring new avenues for stepping up economic and commercial linkages with the Caribbean and Latin American countries.

New Delhi has indicated to Guyana that it was willing to open liberal lines of credit. Jagdeo will also visit Bangalore and Mumbai before leaving for New York.

Meanwhile, Jagdeo has also called for closer economic ties with India, saying that the two countries had similar views on the World Trade Organisation and should co-operate during the forthcoming Cancun meet to voice concerns of developing countries.

Jagdeo said there was tremendous scope in the pharmaceutical, telecoms, Infor-mation Technology and manufacturing sectors to effect a manifold increase in trade volume.

The Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, Digvijay Singh said India was committed to continue its support to improve the living standards of Guyanese citizens and asked the country’s private sector to co-operate in this regard.

Singh asked potential Indian investors to take advantage of the favourable business climate in Guyana that offered trade opportunities in areas as diverse as sugar, spices, diamonds and forest products.

Jagdeo said despite a small population the country was a good investment destination as it provided access to other South American markets which Indian entrepreneurs could tap.

He said reforms in the Caribbean state had freed the economy from the clutches of bureaucracy, speeding up privatisation.

He added that out of the 45 public sector units that existed 11 years ago, there were only three state-run enterprises in the country now.

Jagdeo will have delegation-level talks with Vajpayee and also hold meetings with Sinha, Commerce and Industry Minister Arun Jaitley and Human Resource Development Minister Joshi. The President hosted a banquet in his honour last night.

The Leader of the Opposition, Sonia Gandhi, is expected to call on Jagdeo today before he leaves for Coimbatore. The President and his team are expected to visit the Bannari Amman Sugars Limited at Sathyamangalam in Erode District. According to The Hindu Business Line, the visit is to help with the upgrading of technology in use in Guyana’s industry.

The President is also scheduled to visit Bangalore tomorrow and Mumbai on Thursday before returning home on Friday.

Meanwhile, in a bid to woo Indian investment, Jagdeo emphasised that Guyana can act as a gateway for Indian products to South and Latin America. According to The Hindu Business Line, he said if the companies were to locate in Guyana, then they could access these markets. Guyana itself will not be a huge market for Indian businessmen, but thinking in strategic terms, by locating in Guyana, Indian business can get access to wider regions.

Jagdeo was addressing a luncheon meeting jointly organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) yesterday. According to the President, Guyana has been traditionally more focussed towards North America, but now the focus is shifting towards South and Latin America.

Elaborating on the advantages of setting up base in the Guyana, the President also highlighted the several preferential arrangements, which his country has with Canada and the US.