Guyana is one of the most open economies in the Caribbean and has enjoyed steady export growth since 2000. CARICOM, the E.U., Canada and the U.S. continue to be Guyana’s primary export markets; however regional and bilateral trade agreements – including those involving CARICOM – with countries such as Argentina, Brazil, the People’s Republic of China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela present opportunities to diversify markets. Through these trade agreements and geographic proximity, Guyana enjoys easy access to 277 million consumers and an export market in excess of USD 130 billion with an overall purchasing power of over USD 2 trillion.
While Guyana’s traditional export products (e.g. sugar, rice, bauxite, gold and timber) continue to enjoy robust growth, Guyana’s non-traditional exports (e.g. value-added wood products, non-traditional agricultural products, seafood and light manufacturing) are becoming an increasingly important source of export earnings with their share of total exports growing consistently. This reflects progress in the country’s increased emphasis towards diversifying the economy.
Over the past decade, Guyana has enjoyed a comparative advantage in the agricultural sector, especially given its diverse agricultural environments, organic cropland, widespread irrigation, drainage and sea defences and trainable farmers. All of which has lent itself to an Agro-Business environment which supports a range of market opportunities for investment and export.
Lucrative markets exist for producing fresh fruits and vegetables for local markets (e.g. domestic consumption, hotels and restaurants) as well as for export. There is also high demand for processed and semi-processed foods (for sale to processors), especially within the Caribbean.
Promising opportunities exist in Guyana’s savannahs to produce and export meat, particularly since Guyana has been declared free of foot and mouth disease. Guyana’s virgin lands provide further opportunities for high-value certified organic products. Beyond Guyana’s regional markets, the Guyanese and Caribbean diasporas in the U.S. and Europe provide a niche market for a number of food products. The wider U.S. and European markets present opportunities for exporters able to meet the tough, uncompromising standards of consumers. While global pricing pressures exist in the traditional sugar and rice industries, opportunities exist for investors able to improve productivity.
Seafood and Aquaculture
Guyana’s 459 km Atlantic coastal zone and extensive network of rivers provide the ideal conditions for a dynamic marine fisheries and aquaculture industry. Already shrimp, prawn and finfish exports account for approximately 12 percent of total exports/ While the shrimp and prawn sector is relatively consolidated, there are opportunities for investors able to add to the value of catches through processing and quality upgrades. Some experts suggest that virtually untapped, high-value opportunities exist among pelagic and deep-sea species further offshore on the continental slope (deepwater snapper and prawns) and in the Atlantic Ocean (swordfish and tuna).
Finally, recent investments show enormous opportunities in fresh-water fish (i.e. tilapia) and shrimp farming for export, with annual income per acre exceeding USD 3,400. At present, shrimp and fish are exported primarily to the U.S., but in 2004 Guyana was certified for fisheries exports to the lucrative E.U. market.
In order to facilitate investment and expansion in these sectors, Guyana provides an array of across-the-board investment incentives, including a flat business tax rate, tax holidays, waivers of customs duties, export tax allowances and unrestricted repatriation of capital, dividends and profits, as well as additional incentives in the sectors listed above. In this regard prospective large scale investors are advised to contact the Embassy of Guyana in Beijing or the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) for assistance.
Go-Invest has been tasked by the Government of Guyana as: 1) the prime contact for investors to facilitate the investment process and expedite applications for investment concessions and government support; and 2) Guyana’s main export promotion agency. Go-Invest’s activities, complemented by those of sector-specific agencies and organizations, provide investors with the information, support and advocacy needed to capitalize on Guyana’s opportunities.