The Honourable Carl B. Greenidge, Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs (Source: Guyana Chronicle)
By Svetlana Marshall
— but Foreign Ministry needs economists, lawyers and linguists, says Greenidge
GUYANA has done well in its pursuit of economic diplomacy in recent times, said Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge, who has been at the helm since the coalition government came to power in 2015.
When President David Granger appointed the Heads of Missions back in 2016, he had said major emphasis should be placed on economic diplomacy as part of Government’s quest to transform the economic landscape of the country.
Speaking with Guyana Chronicle on Thursday, the minister said notable progress has been made in the area of trade.
“We have, I think, done reasonably well in this regard on a variety of fronts,” he told Guyana Chronicle.
Alluding to the recent State visit to Brazil, Minister Greenidge said a number of economic issues were discussed as the countries seek to improve the Partial Scope Agreement.
Under the Partial Scope Agreement, Guyana is entitled to sell rice, red peppers, bottled rum, copra fruits and vegetables, calcined bauxite, PVC pipes, corrugated cardboard, and alu-zinc sheets, among other products. Brazil is entitled to sell machinery parts, building materials, agro-based products, pastas, noodles, jams, jellies, rum and spirits, and pharmaceuticals.
In some instances, there is a quota system to ensure that there is no market distortion and that domestic producers are not displaced.
Minister Greenidge pointed out too that Guyana’s trade relation with Cuba has been great. Last September, US$3.5M worth of rice was shipped to Cuba as part of an agreement between Guyana’s Nand Persaud and Company Limited and the Cuban company, ALIMPORT.
Guyana had not shipped rice to Cuba since 1999. This year, Nand Persaud and Company is expected to acquire a larger share of the Cuban market.
And while he could account for many other similar trade arrangements with the country’s trading partners, Minister Greenidge said it is not all about trade.
“It isn’t all about trade, but that is a good part of it, and in that regard, I am saying to you, a great deal has been done in terms of opening doors for us to export.”
Internally, he said the country must do more to diversify its production and increase efficiency.
But that aside, the foreign affairs minister said Guyana has been active at the decision-making table, aiding in the formulation of rules on the international stage.
“It was an American senator who said that ‘If you are not at the table where rules are fashioned and where issues are being negotiated, if you are not at the table, you will be on the menu’, and in the area of economic diplomacy and the area of trade, that is very, very important,” he posited.
“We have been working along with the ACP countries and along with CARICOM in the context of the arrangements with our major trading partners, and in these areas we have been major spokesmen. At the ACP Council meeting in Brussels in November, Guyana was chosen to chair the ministerial session,” Minister Greenidge explained. He had chaired that ministerial session.
Minister Greenidge, however, noted that the ministry is in need of economists and lawyers to enhance its capacity areas such as trade.
Additionally, he said there is a need for linguists.
“If you are going to be exporting to markets, if you are going to be negotiating investment agreements in markets, if you are going to understand those markets, their preferences, their prejudices, their laws, you need to have skills that understand the culture, the institutions and the languages. So in addition to hard technical skills, we also need linguistic skills,” he said.
Minister Greenidge said this is an area that ought to be strengthened in the future. He foresees that the country will continue to make strides in the area of economic diplomacy, among other areas.
(Sourced from Guyana Chronicle– January 14, 2018)