The year 2020 will be remembered as a watershed moment in the history of Guyana. But the years in the build-up to 2020 are pivotal in ensuring that the development path which is charted for the country is one which is sustainable as well as one that allows maximum benefits to be assimilated to Guyanese. As the oldest and largest private sector umbrella organization in Guyana, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) believes that it has a responsibility to the private sector and citizens of Guyana to help strengthen the fibres of economic development.
A TWO-PRONGED APPROACH
It is as a result of this deep-seated sense of responsibility that, since the announcement of ExxonMobil’s major oil discovery in 2015, the Chamber has been one of the organizations at the forefront in offering input into the development of the oil and gas industry. In this regard, the Chamber has adopted a two-pronged approach in promoting local private sector development in and around the industry – these include, ramped up efforts in the area of oil and gas and oil and gas-related advocacy, as well as strategic action to promote private sector development in and around the oil and gas industry.
In the area of advocacy, there has been a particular focus by the GCCI on local content to ensure that indigenous companies are able to garner as much benefit from the value chain of the oil and gas industry. Notwithstanding this, even in calling for local content, the Chamber is cognizant of the deleterious effects that rigid local content requirements can have on oil and gas companies, the investment prospects and ultimately, economic growth. As a responsible party to national development, the Chamber therefore subscribes to the view that local content legislation should simply facilitate first preference to competent Guyanese firms.
It is the Chamber’s position that strategic partnerships between local and foreign companies who are experienced in the oil and gas industry will bode well for the promotion of private sector development in Guyana. In this regard, the Chamber has embarked on the adoption of a Memorandum of Understanding between itself and Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association (NEIA), a private sector umbrella organization in one of the most successful oil and gas economies, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
Another Memorandum of Understanding is also expected to be signed shortly between Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association (NOIA). These Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) will be executed through a multi-stakeholder Trade Facilitation Council which will comprise all activities designed to, among other things, promote strategic partnerships through joint ventures and others between members of the GCCI, NEIA and NOIA.
THE CHAMBER & GIPEX
The Chamber was also a critical player at the Guyana International Petroleum Business Summit and Exhibition (GIPEX). It fielded speakers from the private sector on expert panels and a booth which promoted members of the Chamber who could not have a dedicated booth at the event. The GIPEX acted as a multi-purpose platform for both foreign investors and domestic companies looking to exchange information and become partners in Guyana’s promising oil and gas sector. The Chamber found that Guyana was promoted as oil rich, ripe for investment, and competitively positioned as the only English speaking country in the South American region – a position which bodes well for foreign investors.
It is against this backdrop for the Chamber that we continue to work tirelessly to ensure that these critical years in Guyana are given as much attention as possible. In a contemporary age, where reliable information and strong network are keys in developing successful businesses, the Chamber will continue to aid in the development of local private sector in the multi-billion dollar industry as a hub for advocacy, information, strategic partnerships and an emphasis on local content.
We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the benefits which accrue from the oil and gas industry are transmitted through inter-generational wealth mechanisms and that our descendants can enjoy the great Guyana we all dream of. Notably, the Chamber would also like to welcome foreign investors, particularly those who are interested in forming partnerships with and supporting local businesses, as we seek to embark on this new chapter in Guyana’s development story.