Guyana turns to Dubai to help it raise its trade profile



It has a land mass twice the size of South Korea and an embarrassment of natural resource riches, yet many people would be hard-pressed to find Guyana on a world map.

In an effort to raise its profile, the South American republic plans to open a commercial office in Dubai in the next few months to bolster trade and investment with the Emirates.

"Guyana now is like the UAE 30 or 40 years ago. We have a lot of minerals and a lot of natural wealth but we are not yet using it," said George Hallaq,the minister of state and the personal representative of the Guyanese president, Donald Ramotar. He was visiting the GCC to meet officials and potential investors.

Nestled between Brazil, Venezuela and Suriname on the north-eastern coast of South America, Guyana is a tropical mix of rainforest, waterfalls and beaches. But beneath the dense vegetation lies an abundance of resources.

The country has an estimated 900 million tonnes of bauxite, the world's eighth-largest known reserves of the mineral from which aluminium is made. It also has deposits of gold, diamonds, other precious stones and phosphates. Canadian firms already mine gold and bauxite in the country. Several oil majors are also exploring for oil off the coast.

But Mr Hallaq said Guyana was looking to draw GCC investment to help to tap the full potential of its reserves.

"We are focusing on the Gulf as we need investment," said Mr Hallaq. "We want to develop relations, and its an opportunity for the GCC to make more money."

Trade ties between the UAE and Guyana are tiny. Non-oil trade with Dubai reached Dh7.4 million (US$2m) in the first five months of the year. Virtually all that was heading to Dubai in the form of sugar and coffee, said Mr Hallaq.

"We want a commercial office in Dubai to facilitate relations between business people here and there," he said.

Exports of sugar, gold, bauxite, seafood, timber and rice account for about 60 per cent of Guyana's GDP. But the country is keen to improve its infrastructure to develop its economy in areas such as tourism.

Guyana is organising a Gulf-Caribbean investment forum in the country on November 5 and 6 to further advance ties.

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