Officials from Guyana are hoping to attract Barbadian workers and entrepreneurs in preparation for “tremendous” and “rapid” economic growth in the South American country, Foreign Trade Minister Sandra Husbands has said.
Husbands told Barbados TODAY Government was looking to broaden and deepen trade in the region and Prime Minister Mottley was particularly interested in pursuing relationships with Guyana, which was expected to experience growth from the development of its oil and gas industry.
Amid an economic downturn in Barbados, she said Guyana’s GDP was expected to increase from $3 billion to $13 billion in a couple years and would needed labor and investment to support it and the country’s Chamber of Commerce and Ministry of Foreign Affairs was looking to Barbados.
“In order to sustain that economic growth produced by the country’s oil sector there will be a greater demand. There will be a need for general services, retail services, construction, building, utilities, healthcare, and schools. They will need more personal services and with more people coming in they will need more recreation and entertainment services,” said Husbands.
“All of those things are areas in which Barbadian enterprises can participate and partner with others in Guyana to build economic growth and make use of the opportunities that will be in Guyana.
She added with the South American country’s small population, it needed to look outside.
“Guyana has just over 750,000 people and is just over the size of England. If you don’t have population to fill your businesses, population to consume the goods and services, then your economy cannot grow. The country needs millions of people to properly take advantage of the oil.
“This will require the supporting services to make it possible. So we are looking to speak with our business community about providing the support and training they need,” said Husbands.
She added such developments underscored the benefits of strengthening the CARICOM Single Market and Economy and extending contingent rights and free movement of labor for the region’s skilled nationals.
“When Barbadians hear that, they only think of people coming and many don’t realize we are trying to pave the way that wherever there are opportunities in the region, they can go and access those opportunities and take their families with them and be entitled to education, healthcare so they can safely set up their homes to create financial opportunities for their families,” she said.
The Prime Minister is trying to ensure that all elements are in place to facilitate all aspects of the CSME; to facilitate a business registry that would be accepted across the Caribbean.
“Right now if you want to open an outlet of your business in other parts of the region, you have to re-register and pay your money all over again.
“So this will be particularly attractive to our micro businesses and our young people with ideas. Guyana needs everything including laundries, personal care, daycare services, landscaping services, bakeries, boutiques and furniture. Everything that you can think of is needed in Guyana,” Husbands said.
When asked if previous tension over migration between Guyanese and Barbadians had subsided, the minister replied: “Of course!”
“Barbados has a long history of good relations with Guyana. BLP administrations have always welcomed Guyanese and looked for joint initiatives. Under Mia Mottley, there is a tradition of embracing our Caribbean neighbors because our businesses cannot grow with 280,000 people. The only way our economies will grow strong is when we can buy and sell goods with each other,” the Foreign Trade minister contended.