— bilateral commission will ensure ‘timely’ enforcement of initiatives
MUTUAL cooperation between Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago is expected to be significantly increased following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Sunday.
The MoU seeks to address non-tariff barriers, areas of trade and investment, agriculture and food security, security, energy, infrastructure, education, tourism, sports and culture, with the aim of developing a strategic partnership for the mutual benefit of the two countries and the wider community.
The agreement was signed at State House by Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, and Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, Dr Amery Browne.
Guyana’s Head of State Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Keith Rowley were among those who witnessed the signing.
President Ali told the media that a bilateral commission will be established within the next three months to ensure that the initiatives under the agreement for the renewed and enhanced cooperation between the two countries are implemented in a timely and efficient manner.
The Head of State said that discussions with Trinidad and Tobago have been “very focused, very positive and forward-looking,” and has allowed both countries the opportunity to “take the bull by the horns” when identifying opportunities within both states and potential blocks to those opportunities.
“What we have concluded and charter[ed] is a joint commitment on how we are going to secure the futures of the people of these two countries by working together, by partnership, looking at joint opportunity, looking at the low-hanging fruits, and developing a medium-to-long-term pathway through which we will enjoy success for Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and the people of both countries.”
FULLY ON BOARD
President Ali noted that even as the MoU has been signed, it is pivotal that investors from both Guyana and Trinidad are fully on board. He opined that in Guyana alone, there are tremendous opportunities for investment, welcoming Trinidadian investors to take advantage of the opportunities available here.
He disclosed that government has already taken Prime Minister Rowley to visit expansive areas across the country that are ripe for investment.
He stated that even as opportunities are available for investment and the increased production of local goods, there must be ease of connection and logistics for the delivery and transport of these products.
Further, Guyana’s President said that the two countries are already in talks for a cargo-plus ferry that would be a necessary investment to facilitate better trade relations between the two states.
“As we speak to you now, we’re already exploring the possibility of having a cargo-plus ferry facility as an experiment between Guyana [and] Trinidad, moving people and goods and services,” President Ali stated.
The Head of State opined that this MoU serves as a platform to address the issues currently faced by CARICOM states, noting his confidence that it will produce fruitful bearings for both countries.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rowley expressed similar sentiments, stating that the recent discussions with President Ali and by extension the signing of the MoU has demonstrated that CARICOM states can find for the wider region and individual states, solutions to many problems, especially in the fight for food security.
“I want to say to the people of Guyana and the people of Trinidad and Tobago, and the wider CARICOM that we [are] limited only by our own vision and our own commitment to do what has to be done. Once we commit ourselves to do what has to be done to improve our circumstances, nothing will prevent us from achieving success.”
NEED TO REFOCUS INVESTMENT
He issued a call to the private sector of both states, saying: “Our private sectors need to refocus our investment in food supply from production to transportation to processing and distribution.
And if CARICOM people do that, then we will improve our circumstances. We have identified those possibilities. We have identified those requirements. We are taking those decisions, and it is now only for us to execute them and get the kinds of results that we could have.”
The Prime Minister added that in the plans there are already systems in place that will see tremendous cooperation between the young people of Trinidad and Tobago and the young people of Guyana.
He noted that the Government of Trinidad has already embarked on assessments to determine how it can further collaborate with Guyana to cater to the local energy sector. Prime Minister Rowley disclosed that based on preliminary findings, Trinidad has the ability to provide air transport services to Guyana’s oil-and-gas sector.
“Only yesterday [Saturday], a test flight from Trinidad and Tobago out to one of your platforms here in the energy sector has confirmed that Trinidad and Tobago’s national helicopter service is in a position to provide Guyana in the energy sector with support… physical support… as you are required to move forward in your exploitation of those needs.”
Noting that the signed MoU is the first step, the Trinidad Prime Minister added that in keeping with the goal of reducing the region’s food-importation bill by 25 per cent by 2025, the next few months are set to see major cooperation between the people at the southernmost point of CARICOM, the people in the manufacturing hubs in Trinidad and Tobago, and Trinidad’s private sector.
The MoU seeks to address non-tariff barriers, areas of trade and investment, agriculture and food security, security, energy, infrastructure, education tourism, sports and culture with the aim of developing a strategic partnership for the mutual benefit of the two countries and the wider community.