GUYANA THE PLACE TO INVEST A Private Sector Perspective
n 2014 Guyana is predicted once again to experience some of the fastest economic growth in the western hemisphere. To understand the sources of this growth means to see the growing range of opportunities for profitable investment. Guyana is endowed with outstanding natural resources and a strategic geographical location. This is combined with preferential access to some of the world’s key markets, over 20 years of macroeconomic stability, an Englishspeaking and internationally-minded population, and a government commitment across all parties to developing the private sector. Guyana’s 5.2% GDP growth in 2013 was fueled both by the traditional sectors of mining and agricultural produce, and also by an expansion of 5.5% in the services industry including 5.9% in ICT. Foreign Direct Investment was US$217M, especially concentrated in extraction, forestry and telecommunications. Major companies from across North America, Europe and China are represented. Indeed foreign investment will be crucial to the further development and diversification of the economy, especially in emerging sectors such as transportation, energy and manufacturing.
duty. In targeted sectors such as the tourism industry, additional incentives are available such as tax holidays. To help guide foreign investors through regulations, the semi-autonomous agency ‘Go-Invest’ has been set up directly under the Office of the President. EXPORT MARKETS Guyana is one of the most open economies in the region, and Georgetown serves as the headquarters for CARICOM. This also provides preferential access to European markets through the European Partnership Agreement, while the other major export destinations are the US and Canada. In the future a key opportunity will be closer economic integration with neighbours especially Brazil. There is already a partial scope agreement in place, and in 2014 an industrial zone will be set up in Lethem near the Brazilian border. Strengthened physical infrastructure, and reductions in the cost of electricity, would allow Guyana to take further advantage of these trade opportunities. This is being addressed by the 2014 budget allocation to the Amaila Falls Hydropower project, which is estimated to reduce the cost of electricity by 20-40% as well as improving reliability. KEY SECTORS for INVESTMENT
INVESTMENT FRAMEWORK In the last 10 years Guyana radically overhauled the legislative environment for investment and simplified the tax structure. Under the 2004 investment act and related amendments, foreign companies and owners are guaranteed equal rights for acquisition of land, repatriation of profits and establishment of companies. This contributed to Guyana ranking 80th worldwide (alongside France and Brazil) for ‘Protecting Investors’ – according to the 2014 World Bank Doing Business Index. A range of fiscal incentives are available to promote exports, which include reductions or waivers on VAT, excise tax and import
Areas of investment opportunity in Guyana range from the ‘classic sectors’ such as bauxite, gold and timber, to new possibilities in oil and gas exploration and infrastructure, as well as complementing the country’s diversification agenda in manufacturing and services. As part of the National Competitiveness Strategy (NCS), the private and public sectors together identified target sectors for carving out sustainable, value-added comparative advantage. A sample sector for strategic investment is tourism – in 2014 Guyana was chosen as one of the top 21 ‘must see destinations’ by
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Ramesh Dookhoo Ramesh Dookhoo is a former Chairman of the Private Sector Commission and former President on the Guyana Manufacturers & Services Association. He is currently Chairman, Trade and Investment Sub-Committee of the Private Sector Commission and a Senior Executive of the Banks DIH Group.