GUYANA’S Ambassador to China, Bayney Karran, while underscoring the importance of investment to national development said investors must be held accountable.
“One should certainly exercise caution with one’s international interlocutors. In Guyana, we have had some bad experiences with some companies and this is very much in the public mind,” Ambassador Karran said in a press statement issued by the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Wednesday. He said local authorities must ensure that investors follow the law. “When investors don’t operate like good corporate citizens, the onus is on us to ensure that our laws, regulations and customs are applied and enforced.”
Referring to Chinese companies operating here, the Guyanese diplomat explained that many of them are not only more open to doing business in states such as Guyana, but also are willing to take the greatest risks for such investments. “One has to have a balance between what is coming in and what we can utilise. It is up to us to filter the good ones from the bad, because Guyana is open to all investors… We have to be careful that we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water,” he said.
Guyana and China recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Belt and Road Initiative (B&RI) that was launched in 2013 by the Chinese Government. It aims to enhance the orderly free-flow of economic factors and the efficient allocation of resources. It is also intended to further market integration and create a regional economic cooperation framework. This has been widely criticised as a move by China to ensure global market dominance.
In the face of suggestions that this could render Guyana indebted to China, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, said the MoU was not a loan agreement, explaining that it merely represents an intention embraced by the two states. Moreover, he explained the incentives of Guyana’s engagement with China as one where “China is prepared to engage without multiple-layered political and other conditions.”
Minister Greenidge also emphasised that China’s general inclination to fund infrastructural projects complements Guyana’s intent to take advantage of the MoU for related development.
“China views infrastructure projects in the context of a bid to build regional and global networks and views such projects in the long term and this initiative is a means of laying a claim to such arteries,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Minister pointed out that “recent work undertaken by William & Mary College suggests that developing states have received significant additional responses, thanks to the B&RI and that few of the 68 states which have accessed it have suffered the kind of horrors that are being promulgated”. While some countries such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka have experienced some difficulty with their projects, the Guyanese Foreign Minister said not all responsibility can be laid at the door of the Chinese initiative.