Speech by Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana at the 124th AGM of the GCCI

SPEECH BY

H.E. DR. NICOLE GILES

HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR CANADA

TO THE GEORGETOWN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AGM THURSDAY MARCH 27TH 2014

  • President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce – Mr. Clinton Urling
  • Honourable Ministers of Government*
  • Members of the Executive of GCCI
  • Members of the Diplomatic Corps
  • Members of the Media
  • Ladies & Gentlemen

 

Good day to you all,

 

It is a privilege and an honour for me to address you today at the 124thGeorgetown Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting.Attaining 124 years of service is quite a feat. I commend the GCCI executive and members on the commitment that the Chamber has shown to investing in business and building Guyana’s economy. You truly exemplify the spirit of entrepreneur and investment excellence.

Investment takes potential and turns it into development. There is little that can match the power and scope of private investment when it comes to innovation, prosperity and security of developing nations such as Guyana.Without it private investment, sustainable economic development is but a dream.  For this reason, Canada remains committed to the Americas and is working with its partners to increase economic opportunity, strengthen security and institutions and foster lasting relationships in order to increase private investment in Guyana.

Small and medium enterprises are playing a foundational role in transforming economies all across the globe and this is certainly true in Guyana. Small and medium enterprises are key drivers for sustainable economic growth, and underpin its economic success.  GCCI’s membership and contribution to Guyana’s economic development demonstrates this.  SMEs could be characterised as the unsung heroes of economic development, with larger companies often taking spotlight.

Keeping in mind the vital importance of SMEs, Canada has prioritised supporting small and medium enterprises in Guyana as part of our objective of engendering Sustainable Economic Growth.    In November 2013, Canada funded the establishment of a Credit Bureau in Guyana to help improve proving business opportunities and support for SME’s.  It provides information on prospective borrowers and their credit worthiness so that SMEs can access credit to grow their business.

But the Credit Bureau was not enough.  In February2014, Canada – through the IFC and in collaboration with the Guyana Bank of Trade and Industry (GBTI) – launched the GBTI’s Risk Management Initiative. This initiative will design a more comprehensive prediction model that is specifically tailored for the SME sector, one that is not only based on financial ratios derived from accounting data. The timely launch of GBTI’s Risk Management Initiative will help small and medium enterprises take advantage of aplethora of commercial opportunities, including those offered by the presence of Canadian mining companies working with Guyana.

Canadian companies are leaders in the extractive sector both at home and abroad, and supporting our companies in maintaining this leadership role abroad is a priority for the Government of Canada.  We recognise that more needs to be done to assist our firms wherever they work in the world and to do so using the “Canadian model” that aligns our political, trade and development objectives internationally.  It is for this reason that last year the Government of Canada amalgamated our Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) into a single Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD).This new mechanism has created a targeted, whole-of-Government approach, allowing Canada to leverage our assets to fully support Canadian industry, bridging the gap between development cooperation and trade activities.  This approach has already born fruit in our cooperation with Guyana; both the Credit Bureau and Risk Management Initiative were funded with Development Assistance, in support of commercial ventures.

 

Sustainable economic growth relies not only on domestic commercial ventures, but their ability to trade beyond their borders.  Canada is inherently a trading nation. It is in our genes; part of the genetic inheritance handed down by our fur-trading forefathers.  Trade has, to a great extent, defined us as a nation.

Today, international trade represents more than 60 percent of Canada’s GDP, with one in five Canadian jobs linked to exports.Canada has free trade agreements in force with more than 10 countries, which provide a competitive advantage across a wide range of sectors. In addition, we’ve begun negotiations with more than 60 countries, including some of the world’s key markets with a combined GDP in excess of $2 trillion.Free trade agreements have proven to be a key driver for our economic prosperity.  There is no better way to boost living standards for our citizens over the long term.

Canada believes that a Canada-CARICOM trade agreement would bring about further prosperity and sustainable economic growth to both Canada and the CARICOM region, and all its citizens.  We further believe that it would complement and help further develop the regional cooperation that already being undertaken through the Caribbean Single Market and Economy initiative. Canada has benefited greatly from our Free Trade Agreements with other hemispheric partners.  We look forward to the successful conclusion of the ongoing Canada-CARICOM trade negotiations in June, so that Guyana and its neighbours may enjoy similar benefits.

Security is a key aspect in the development of business and the attraction of investment. Businesses play a role in increasing safety and security.  At the same time, businesses require a basic level of security in order to thrive in the first place. To this end, Canada and Guyana have chosen to cooperate on niche, key areas of security impacting both Guyanese and Canadian interests.  In February, Guyana and Canada joined forces to tackle the threat posed by the use offraudulent documents through the implementation of the Fraudulent DocumentDetection Project. The Fraudulent Document Detection Project strengthens the ability of Guyana law enforcement to detect identify theft and document fraud, thereby enhancing Guyana’s border security. Training was provided by the Canada Border Service Agency, and fraudulent document detection kits were provided bythe Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI).The Government of Guyana provided the training facility and a wide-range of officers, from front-line immigration and registry office officials, to CANU and GDF officers.

This project will not only help to prevent identity theft and the illegal movement of people through Guyana’s borders, but also has a trade facilitation role by encouraging the quick and efficient movement of legitimate travellers – such as business people – through Guyana’s borders.

Mr. President, I understand that your tenure at the helm of GCCI comes to an end today.  I have enjoyed working with you and the GCCI since my arrival in September;I have been impressed by your high level of Enthusiasm and dedication on issues of shared interest, from trade negotiations to enhancing the business environment for Companies.  I would like to offer my congratulationsto you and your team for your hard work and many successes.  I wish you and GGCI every success as you grow from strength to strength.

 

In conclusion, I am confident that the entrepreneurship and determination demonstrated by the GCCI and its members will inspire a new generation of business leaders to invest in themselves and in Guyana. Canada is a trusted investor, a reliable supporter of local solutions and a dynamic partner for study, research, business, innovation and sustainable economic growth.  Our engagement in the Americas is delivering results, both for Canada and for our partners in the region.  The Government of Canada stands ready to continue to work with Guyana’s Government, industry, small and medium enterprises and all stakeholders to promote investment and strengthen ties between our countries.

Je vous remercie de votre attention et vous souhaite des meilleux félicitations.