GUYANA’S Private Sector Commission (PSC) and the Suriname Trade and Industry Association (VSB) recently hosted its first meeting to iron out the management of a 10-member council.
The formation of the business council is part of the vision of President Dr Irfaan Ali and President of Suriname, Chandrikapersad Santokhi, for strengthened bilateral relations and business cooperation between the two countries.
According to a press release from the PSC, the council which was formulated in early 2022, will be solely dedicated to the strengthening of economic ties and initiatives regarding shared interests and the creation of the envisioned single market and economy.
The work of the council will include the promotion of trade, industry and investment as a means towards economic growth; improvement of competitiveness through innovation and entrepreneurship; building partnerships in skills development to create solutions in education and workforce development, and the promotion of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) development and exchanges, the release added.
The council hosted its first official meeting on March 16, 2022, when ambitious but necessary targets were set, and a meeting agenda for the next 12 months was set out. The next council meeting is slated to be held in May 2022 in Guyana, after which bi-monthly meetings will be held.
The council consists of 10 members from the private sector of both countries. The members from Suriname are Mr Bryan Renten, Mr. Derrick Klaverweide, Mr. Rishie Parbhudayal and Mr. Farsi Khodabux, while the members from the Guyana are Mr. Paul Cheong, Mr. Norman Mc Lean, Mr. Ryan Alexander, Ms. Latoya Jack and Mr. Leekha Rambrich.
According to the release, the business council is also expected to support the creation of an enabling environment for the rapid and secure movement of goods and the promotion of joint- venture partnerships/formation of synergies between businesses in the two countries.
Plans to establish a council for those purposes were initiated in August 2020, following a meeting among members of the two private sector bodies. This followed calls by both President Ali and President Santokhi for the private sectors of the two countries to establish partnerships for cross-border investments.
“We are not in competition; we are on a journey of co-operation to maximise the benefits for people, and, in order to ensure we do it successfully, we would need to have synergies in terms of infrastructure and its use,” President Dr. Irfaan Ali had said in August.
President Sanotkhi had pleaded for the relationship between Suriname and Guyana to be an example for the region. “We will show the region how it should be done. We don’t sit next to each other as competitors, but as partners,” he said.
In August 2021, Suriname’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business, and International Co-operation, Albert Ramdin, underscored the importance of the two countries taking an integrated approach to investment.
Ramdin said that the two countries are eying the possibility of merging their economies into a single market space.
The press release noted that the business council will have joint leadership with VSB’s Chairman Mr. Bryan Renten, who was elected to serve for the first six months. At the end of this period, the chairmanship will be handed over to Mr. Paul Cheong, who will serve for a six-month period.
Cheong, who is the Chairman of the PSC, described the day as historic. “The relationship with Suriname is necessary. There are many synergies that we can achieve,” he was quoted as saying.
According to the press release, the private sector will find opportunities to collaborate in the various sectors, and with the assistance of the Guyana and Suriname governments are working on the removal of all barriers for the realisation of efficient bilateral trade.
“When we come next time we will not come with a list of issues, but with a detailed strategy,” the VSB Chairman noted.