GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA) -- The Guyana government will be considering deeper involvement in the South American regional trading bloc (MERCOSUR), President Donald Ramotar announced at a summit in Brazil on Friday.
The MERCOSUR summit held in Brasilia on Friday was the last under the presidency of the Portuguese-speaking nation, as it will be passed to Uruguay for the next six months. Venezuela became a full member on that occasion.
MERCOSUR is a regional trade agreement among Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay which, under the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), is integrated with the Andean Community of Nations (a trade bloc comprising Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru).
In the presence of Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff and other South American leaders, Ramotar said he was heartened that both MERCOSUR and CARICOM have already signalled their intention to pursue a programme of joint collaboration in the near future and appealed for the strengthening of the collective vision of growth, economic prosperity and stability for Latin America and the Caribbean.
He hailed Brazil for encouraging relations with Guyana and the wider Caribbean Community (CARICOM), a process that began with the first Brazil-CARICOM summit in the city of Brasilia on April 2010, where heads of state and government of Brazil and CARICOM met under the presidency of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
There the leaders agreed to the importance of MERCOSUR-CARICOM relations in the process of Latin American-Caribbean integration.
Alluding to 1999 when Guyana and MERCOSUR signed an memorandum of understanding to promote economic relations, especially with respect to trade and investment, he said, “We have travelled a long way since that event and I am pleased to reiterate my country’s commitment to the regional integration process underway in our hemisphere with a view to modernising our economies and fostering a durable and sustainable socio-economic development. In this regard, I also want to recognise the leadership and vision of Brazil to strengthen ties and promote a solid development partnership with Guyana and the wider Caribbean Community.”
The bridge across the Takutu River linking Guyana and Brazil is seen as a physical connection that will expand economic benefits to the region, including a trade route that will further the efforts of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
CARICOM member states are yet to take full advantage of Guyana’s location as a gateway to Brazil and the wider South America, even though some member states have begun formalising their trade relationship with Brazil.
Ramotar said that the significant importance attached to membership in CARICOM is just as important as continental integration, which, he said, has become more relevant and necessary for further development.
The Guyanese leader said that, as a small developing country, Guyana values the role integration plays in achieving the economic growth and sustainable development necessary to address the asymmetries and vulnerabilities of small developing economies.
UNASUR is regarded by Ramotar as an important organisation that both Guyana and Suriname can use to foster vital linkages between South America and the Caribbean.
Guyana signed a partial scope agreement with Brazil that made way for Guyanese products entering the Brazilian market with products like fruits and agricultural, construction, mining and customer products. In May this year St Kitts and Nevis followed suit.
The agreement with Guyana grants tariff preferences consisting of percentage reductions in the charges applied to imports at the moment of customs clearance of the products negotiated in this agreement.
The overall objective of the agreement was to foster bilateral trade flows, cooperation on trade matters and increased participation of the private sector.