Analysis and News

Guyana and Suriname mull single market space to unleash business opportunities

BY GEOCAP's Contributor: Vishani Ragobeer

Over the past year, South American continental neighbours Guyana and Suriname have been working to deepen the bilateral relationship and generate new business opportunities. Important to the discussion are considerations for an integrated market space given its potential for new business opportunities.

Momentum resulted in a recent high-level delegation visit that includes Suriname’s Head-of-State Chandrikpersad Santokhi. This visit follows an earlier state visit made by President Santokhi to witness the inauguration of Guyana’s Head-of-State, Dr. Irfaan Ali.

According to Suriname’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Albert Ramdin, who has been part of the visiting delegation, the two countries have been considering how they can facilitate a deeper integration of their economies to enhance business.

Simply, the aim is to facilitate Guyana-Suriname market access of businesses in both countries;  goods and services could be freely marketed in Suriname and Guyanese businesses could be set up there, and vice versa.

While speaking at an event on Thursday, Ramdin highlighted, “We strongly believe that these two markets must be seen as one market.” He also related that the two countries share a number of similarities, including their demography and economy.

Importantly, the two countries also share the commonality of being oil producers. Discoveries of oil offshore Guyana and Suriname are being viewed as a springboard for both nations’ economies, laying the foundation for exponential economic growth and prosperity.

Collectively, the discoveries by the various exploration companies in the Guyana-Suriname basin are estimated to be well over 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent and more than 30 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Additionally, there are already plans on stream to develop a gas-to-shore project in Guyana; however, given the bounties that exist offshore, there is a likelihood that Guyana and Suriname will establish a “common gas strategy.”

Guyana’s Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh on Thursday confirmed that the two governments were considering the integration of the two countries’ market space.

According to him, both countries recognise the challenges small states grapple with due to their small domestic market size. As such, he said it was both “natural” and “obvious” for the countries to realise that they could expand their markets to geographical neighbours.

With only the Corentyne river separating the two countries, the construction of a Corentyne river bridge has been a key focus of both governments.

This would allow for faster travel between the two countries but also, within the context of developing business opportunities, Dr. Singh said it would allow for an easier transfer of goods and services which will allow for the development of the single economic space.

The Finance Minister also encouraged Guyanese and Surinamese companies to think about working towards the expansion of their operations into each other’s countries.

He also acknowledged that there have been some challenges that hinder the ease of doing business. The Finance Minister emphasised that the local authorities were working on reducing and even eliminating the challenges and ‘red tape’ that businesses encounter.

Guyana is open for business, Dr. Singh emphasised.

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