Guyana uses its foreign policy for economic development

(MENAFN – Caribbean News Global)

Wazim Mowla is an American Guyanese program assistant for the Caribbean Initiative at the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council in Washington DC, and a master’s student at the School of International Service at the American University.

By Wazim Mowla

While some states aim to use foreign policy to increase their position in the world, for advocacy purposes or as a tool to compete with others, Guyana has focused on promoting its economic development in its country. . Guyana, whose oil resources have brought it new political and economic capital, is using its foreign ministry to strengthen existing relations with former allies and establish new partnerships with other oil-producing countries to attract foreign direct investment in its oil. and the non-oil sectors. The latest example was Guyana’s announcement that it will open embassies in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), joining the existing mission in Kuwait.

Guyana, the new Caribbean state rich in oil and gas, is ready to use its new economic weight to rapidly accelerate its economic development. As a perspective, an energy economist from the Inter-American Development Bank recently said that if Guyana produced around 750,000 barrels of oil per day by 2025, the country could outperform its neighbor Venezuela – home to the country. one of the largest oil reserves in the world. Even at its current capacity, Guyana is producing enough oil to be the only country in the Caribbean not to experience an economic contraction in the wake of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.

President Irfaan Ali’s administration capitalizes on this economic wealth by shifting Guyana’s foreign policy objectives towards a more business-friendly approach. As Guyana continues to focus on external issues, such as its long-standing controversy over the border with Venezuela and its relations with the United States, China and India, increased attention is being paid to new corners. of the world, namely with the States which offer Guyana new avenues of development. investments for the country. For example, in February 2021, Guyana announced that it would establish two new embassies in the Middle East. Guyana’s mission in Kuwait and consulates in Jordan, Israel and Lebanon will be joined by one in the UAE, home to Dubai, and the other in Qatar.

The announcement of these embassies came after high-level visits and discussions with Middle Eastern officials about Guyana’s oil sector, which also sparked interest in agriculture and aid to help the Guyana to fight the pandemic. Shortly after President Ali’s inauguration, a team from the United Arab Emirates arrived in Guyana, where discussions took place on oil and gas, as well as the agricultural sector, including Guyana’s sugar industry. , which has been at the center of the Ali administration. In addition, President Ali’s conversations with the Emir of Qatar mirrored those of the United Arab Emirates and resulted in discussions on Qatari investment opportunities in the Halaal industry in Guyana. In this latest discussion, Qatar also sent a field hospital to Guyana to help the country fight the pandemic.

The results of the visits and conversations show the usefulness of having them with potential oil and gas investors as often the results will include investments in the non-oil sector. This was presented at the launch of the Canada-Guyana Chamber of Commerce, where the Deputy Minister of International Trade of Global Affairs Canada noted that “ the oil sector will only serve to increase partnerships ” with the sectors. agriculture and the financial sector. If this is possible with old allies, so are potential new allies. As a result, Guyana may view the opening of new embassies as a method of entering new markets for its non-oil sectors in its efforts to diversify its economy by becoming less dependent on natural resources.

To do so, Guyana will need to continue to expand diplomatic relations with other countries. If Guyana relies on state-to-state talks as a means of attracting the country’s interest, little investment is likely to materialize, and if there is substantial investment, it could be an ad hoc event. If an embassy were open, it would go beyond ad hoc discussions between government officials and instead establish a direct and open line between representatives of each country. And with the creation of an embassy, ​​there would always be an open line for potential investors. Additionally, having an embassy means that Guyanese officials learn and understand the culture of the country hosting the embassy, ​​so that they can market Guyana’s potential in the context of the host country.

In addition, opening embassies may also open up new markets for Guyana’s sugar industry, rice, the country’s private sector and small businesses that may find it difficult to compete in traditional hemisphere markets. western. It is for this reason that President Ali recently declared that “ the business world must not only think local but also regional and international ”, which means that with the establishment of the embassies of the Middle East, the government paved the way for new markets in the international arena.

In addition, this Guyanese foreign policy format can lead to broader opportunities, including strengthening the country’s human capital through educational and people-to-people exchanges. For example, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have proven to be suitable for economic development with regard to oil and tourism. These embassies can help facilitate educational exchanges, where Guyanese can travel to the Middle East and gain the technical skills that can help fill gaps in Guyana’s oil sector. Also, it can entice people from the Middle East to visit Guyana, thus adding a new source of tourism for the country.

Therefore, if Guyana continues to use its potential wealth in oil and gas to leverage new diplomatic ties to promote its development, Guyana citizens will reap the rewards. However, Guyana should not stop at the new embassies of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar and grow rapidly over the next decade. More embassies means greater chances of investment opportunities for Guyana’s non-oil sector and, by extension, its people.

Guyana should continue to open embassies in the Middle East, as with Saudi Arabia, but at the same time look to European countries, as it seeks to expand markets for rice and sugar, as well as in Africa. and in East Asia. If Guyana manages to do so over the next few years, as the world watches its unprecedented economic growth, the country will rapidly amplify its development.

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