Guyana’s manufacturing and services industry implements initiatives to maximize GDP contributions

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Since its inception in the 1960s, Guyana’s manufacturing and services industry has made admirable contributions towards the overall growth of the Guyanese economy. But of course, a significant part of its untapped potential can see it making even greater contributions to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association Ltd. (GMSA), that emerged some 50 years ago, is now a highly recognized institute ranked as one of the leading business support organizations and it is hoping to improve the role played by the industry.
Its mandate is essentially to strengthen the relationship between the sector and the relevant governmental agencies, and to act as a vehicle in hastening the economic advancement of Guyana.
Sectors which fall under the purview of the GMSA include agro-processing, forestry and wood products, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, construction and engineering, minerals and services.
According to its Chairman, Clinton Williams (who has since been replaced by Norman McLean), the Guyanese economy has been consistently recording a 5% average growth over the last five years with various sectors playing major roles. These include mining (particularly gold and diamonds); wholesale and retail trades; rice and seafood; building and construction; and information and communication technology.
While manufacturing has accounted for 4% of the GDP, Williams said a number of challenges are still facing the sector. Some of these are high energy and transportation costs as well as insufficient financing.
He said that the sector is still in the process of devising mechanisms to effectively break away from primary processing of agricultural, mineral and forest products.
Meanwhile, the GMSA is pursuing initiatives in order to realize several objectives hinged on making larger contributions to the GDP. The first is the pursuit of the more lucrative trade in services in offshore markets, especially those with which Guyana has signed partial or full scope agreements.
Williams emphasized that Guyana has some very distinct advantages that make its products unique, as he made particular reference to eco-tourism, non-fossil fuel energy sources, professional services, health and wellness, among others.
The manufacturing industry is also hoping to develop product diversification within existing industries by advocating for attractive incentives for fledging industries in forest and wood products and agro-processing both of which have great export potential.
In the same vein, the GMSA Chairman said that efforts are being made to provide existing manufacturing enterprises with special fiscal incentives. As it gears to stimulate increased growth, there have been several notable contributions and successes of the sector.
The pursuance of opportunities for Trade and Investments primarily with the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Williams asserted, via business lunches, networking and other linkages, proved to be very beneficial.
Another big step for the GMSA was its participation in trade and investment forums both locally and externally, including the Trinidad and Tobago Trade and Investment Expo.
The GMSA Chairman also stated that another great start for the industry was following up on a 2011 Economic Integration project initiated by the Brazilian BSO SEBRAE and the Manufacturing Association. This saw the Caribbean Export Development Agency conducting a study last year to assess viable trade and investment opportunities in Guyana, Suriname and Brazil.
He explained that the aim is to design an actionable strategic plan to enhance export trade among the territories. It is expected to be a road map for achieving export growth, identifying key sector(s), sub sector(s), products and services that are export-ready. It wants to establish key institutional relationships between trade support institutions that require strengthening, and earmark external financial and technical support programs that could be accessed.
Williams said that a project has been identified to generate US$135 million in export sales by 2018 and his organization is most proud of this initiative. Some US$8.5 million will originate from Guyana and US$5.1 million from Suriname.
Another new scheme which is also in the pipeline to boost the industry seeks collaborative efforts between the GMSA and the Energy and Research Institute of India under the patronage of the Office of Climate Change. There will be approximately 10 firms selected to benefit from an Energy Efficiency Project via technical assistance from India.
Once its efforts to maximize the industry’s potential go according to plan, its projections for the near future are guaranteed to be realized.
It expects to be able to manufacture and market high quality, value added products and services, achieve substantial enhancement of productivity and production capabilities and scope, open up new markets and expand the current market share.
The GMSA executive member also believes that the projects will not only see the introduction of new processes for Guyana’s manufacturers but also the transformation of the Manufacturing Sector as it aims to raise its contribution to GDP to a level even greater than the 16%, which was the norm four decades ago.
Williams categorically stated that Guyana’s manufacturing and services sector is filled with astounding potential for the diversification of the country’s economy, and added that the proposals created bring the industry closer towards achieving such heights.

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