Guyana seeks closer ties with Chile

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President David Granger and Chilean Ambassador to Guyana, Patricio Becker share a toast (Delano Williams photo)

…President Granger identifies petroleum, mining as areas for cooperation

The Government of Chile is serious about negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with all member countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), including Guyana, and hopes that the proposal made for such is “duly considered”.

This was embedded in the message of Ambassador of Chile to Guyana, His Excellency Patricio Becker at the celebration of the 209th Independence Anniversary of Chile on Tuesday at the Marriott Hotel.

President David Granger (third left) shares a toast with Chilean Ambassador to Guyana, Patricio Becker (second left); First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger (fourth left) and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Karen Cummings (Delano Williams photo)

The pitch for the Free Trade Agreement was first made in 2018 at the CARICOM Heads of State and Government Summit 2018. He relayed the existing interest to President David Granger at the event on behalf of Chilean President, His Excellency Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique.

Also attending were First Lady, Sandra Granger; Speaker of the National Assembly Barton Scotland; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Karen Cummings; Former President, Samuel Hinds; members of the government; members of the diplomatic corps; private sector representatives and other special invited guests.

Meanwhile, in his remarks, President David Granger highlighted that Guyana is interested in partnering with the Republic of Chile in the areas of petroleum, mining, disaster management and the environment as the two countries continue over 40 years of diplomatic ties.

STRONG TIES
On September 18, Chileans celebrate ‘fiestas patrias’ which consists two-three days of celebration in in commemoration of the proclamation of the First Governing Body of 1810 which marked the beginning of the Chilean Independence process. Guyana and Chile, situated on the continent of South America, have shared good relations since the establishment of formal diplomatic ties on July 22, 1971.
President Granger noted that, in the past, the two states have successfully collaborated in the fields of diplomacy, language-training, geochemical and geological mapping, immigration, port security and transportation.

Just recently, on July 6, 2018, the Statement of Intent on Cooperation in Energy and Mining and the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the ‘Andres Bello’ Diplomatic Academy of Chile and the Foreign Service Institute of Guyana as commitment to greater cooperation for mutual benefit. As noted by the Head of State, relations between Guyana and Chile have also been strengthened by high-level exchanges between the respective Presidents at the 19th Summit of the Rio Group Summit held in Georgetown in 2007; the 23rd Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community held in Suriname in 2012; the 1st Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) held in Chile in 2013 and the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community held Jamaica in 2018.

SHARED ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
Moving forward, President Granger said that more opportunities are available for partnerships and these must be pursued as the two continental countries share common concerns. “Guyana looks forward to strengthening bilateral cooperation with Chile, especially in the mining and petroleum sectors, disaster management and environmental protection,” he began, adding later:

Several from the diplomatic corps; private sector and government look on at the event (Delano Williams photo)

“The raging wildfires in the Amazon and the devastating effects of hurricanes in the Caribbean highlight the urgent need for intensified continental cooperation on environmental catastrophe.” He congratulated the Chilean Government on its hosting of the 25th Session of the Conference of Parties of the COP [Conference of Parties] 25 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Santiago in December 2019.
In a toast to the health of President of Chile, he also reminisced on his State visit to the country in October 2016. According to Ambassador Becker, “…on that occasion, the signing of a Visa Exemption Agreement for ordinary passport holders and an Air Transport Agreement was achieved. These agreements are progressive construction of common initiatives that clearly reflect the political will of Chile and Guyana in exploring a relationship and increased facilitation of tourism and development of business and investment.”

In his remarks to the audience, the Ambassador expressed his privilege to host the event noting that the President’s State visit in 2016 allowed the two countries to boost their relationship by identifying key areas of corporation. He too noted areas of collaboration shared between the two countries such as scholarships offered to CARICOM by the Chilean Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AGCID) and Spanish Language Teaching programmes for the Guyana Foreign Service.

He expressed his country’s desire to contribute in the future to the improvement of democracy; the establishment of public policies for economic and social development and the challenge of climate change. “I would like to point out that we are certain and confident that Guyana has a great future with the development of the oil and gas industry; the exploration and exploitation of a growing mining industry as well as the development of the timber industry which also allows the progress of the communities that inhabit the interior of this country…I would like to offer a toast for the prosperous future of this beautiful country, its authorities and its citizens.,” Becker said.

At the event, attendees were treated to the taste of Chilean wine with the help of wine distributors: Demerara Distillers Limited and King’s Jewellery World.