making CSME a reality
Trinidad last weekend to support his countrys trade
show, President Bharrat Jagdeo made an articulate and commonsense
assessment of Guyana as the natural resource base of the
Caricom Single Market and Economy.
Guyanas hinterland possesses gold and diamonds, iron
ore for the production of bauxite, vast tracts of forestry,
millions of hectares of arable agricultural lands, eco-tourism
possibilities like nowhere else in the Caribbean save for
its neighbour Suriname. And Mr Jagdeo noted that the exploration
for petroleum has started, notwithstanding the conflict
with Suriname over marine acreage.
The President says his government is seeking to attract
investment capital from rich Caricom partners such as T&T.
On cue with Prime Minister Manning, the Guyanese president
says his government is no longer interested in exporting
its raw materials.
Guyanas industrialisation, says Mr Jagdeo, is to be
mounted on the indigenous raw materials base. Specifically,
gold is to be turned into a jewelry industry, diamonds are
to be cut and polished and lumber can be carved into furniture.
Mr Jagdeo said an enthusiastic yes to the proposition
of Mr Manning that, with the support of Port-of-Spain, Guyana
can partner with the international giant Alcoa to convert
bauxite into alumina to be further processed into aluminium
at the smelter plant to be constructed at the Union Industrial
Estate in La Brea.
He also made the point that annually his country and doubtless
other Caricom states import billions of dollars in manufactured
food products from the North, while fertile land abounds
The combining of the human, physical, financial and technological
resources of the region to produce goods and services for
export and to replace imports is the fundamental pillar
on which the CSME has been constructed.
Mr Jagdeo is therefore on solid ground in teasing out the
possibilities for the CSME, scheduled to become operational
in December 2005, with Jamaica, T&T and Barbados having
committed to be ready by next January.
The Guyanese President says his government has gone ahead
and removed restrictions on the free passage of capital
and labour, on exchange controls, on the ownership of land
and is inviting businessmen from here and elsewhere to come
set up shop in Guyana.
The opportunities and complementarities of the Guyana economy
and those too of Suriname with T&T, Barbados, Jamaica
and the Eastern Caribbean are all too obvious.
The capital from such economies such as this one, the expertise
of the Eastern Caribbean in offshore financial services
and tourism, a corps of high-level professionals and manufacturing
capacity in places such as Jamaica, Barbados and T&T
are natural allies with the raw material resources and land
in the two Caricom countries on the mainland.
A month ago in Port-of-Spain, the Caricom official at the
head of the CSME desk expressed confidence that the technical,
legal and administrative framework would be in place for
the start-up on schedule.
Guyana has now joined T&T, Jamaica and Barbados in saying
that it will be ready. Notwithstanding those assurances,
there is understandable scepticism that the CSME and the
Caribbean Court of Justice could become functional next
year, given the defaults on previous start-up dates.
Perhaps it will assist the psychological and physical process
if member states begin to outline with some clarity and
precision, as Mr Jagdeo did, the joint-venture projects
that are immediately possible. If the possibilities are
articulated over the next couple months, the phased start
to the CSME in 2005 could become reality.
The natural synergies between T&T, Guyana, Jamaica and
Barbados may also create an incentive for greater enthusiasm
amongst member states. Demonstrated success will assist
in clarifying the vision and developing the structure for