Those who live and work in Guyana have seen an appreciable increase in their economy since the 1980s. Exports of sugar and related products, rice, and even more potentially valuable commodities like aluminum, gold, and oil have the potential to take the economy of Guyana to the next level in the coming decade. Here are some of the high points of Guyana’s economy.
Commodity Exports and Machinery Imports
Guyana has been focused on exports of sugar, rice, and related agricultural products in the past. The outlook for these products is still very high, which means trading opportunities like agricultural equipment from the US for purchase in Guyana, and continuing agricultural innovations like honey production to meet rising worldwide demand for alternative sweeteners. Guyana’s warm climate means tropical and sub-tropical crops grow very well, and a reasonable labor cost means that production of commodities from these crops, like refined sugar, can be done at competitive rates.
But the prospect for whole new markets may be emerging with the discovery of vast oil reserves in the past few years. Exxon Mobil’s 2015 discovery of these reserves in Guyana may put this country among the world’s largest producers of crude oil, alongside countries like Venezuela, Saudia Arabia, and Angola. While the exploitation of these reserves is certainly subject to geopolitical and market risks, along with a changing global attitude about oil consumption, the near-term reality is that this discovery stands to increase the wealth of Guyana and its citizens substantially.
Infrastructure Improvement Opportunities
The very thing that is seen as a challenge by authorities like the International Trade Administration may well be yet another source of employment and stability – the state of Guyana’s infrastructure. Electricity generation, the state of telecommunications, and the condition of roadways are all areas for improvement. This means that projects which might not yield a significant return in more industrialized nations may be strategic wins for investors who see the potential of improving these situations. The knock-on effects of making these improvements might also yield a whole new market opportunity for Guyana’s retail consumers.
Improvements Possible in the Retail and Capital Markets
Guyana has traditionally been a very cash-based economy compared to the US and the EU, but increasing credit options are available from banks like Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry Ltd. (GBTI Bank). There is a vast opportunity to bring improvements that can reduce transactional friction and increase spending and investment on the streets of Guyana.
For example, eCommerce is booming in the US. While some of this growth is happening at the expense of traditional bricks and mortar retail, making it easier to buy things from a consumer’s phone or desktop tends to increase overall spending. Guyana’s citizens, some of whom might be benefiting from increased buying power in the near future with greater job prospects in oil and gas, would further benefit from increased access to the internet, increased access to debit and credit cards, and greater ability to buy the things they need online.
Residents of Georgetown have had access to world-famous markets like Stabroek since the days when Guyana was under British colonial rule. Greater ability to order and deliver goods from markets like this one throughout the country could have game-changing effects on the retail economy of the country.
Appetite for US Goods
US retail goods enjoy immense name recognition in Guyana. US manufacturers and entrepreneurs have an opportunity to work with the many Guyanese people who have emigrated to the US to develop workable strategies to introduce these items in Guyana. Increasing disposable income is likely to increase the appetite for luxury consumer goods in Guyana.
The US Department of Commerce recommends working through local agents or distributors to discover markets and find ways to distribute them. As mentioned previously, the channels that are typical in the United States may not exist in this emerging market, or may not be stable enough to deliver the kind of growth that is needed for success.
The Possibilities for Tourism in Guyana
In addition to being rich in natural resources and commodities, Guyana has a rich cultural legacy to share with the world. The indigenous culture shares a lot of similarities to the Caribbean, and the website iExplore describes its culture as a mix of “Amerindian, Nepalese, Indian, Chinese, and African influences, as well as British, Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish facets.” Those latter cultural elements stem from Dutch and English colonization, as well as other European trading in the past. While this is a complex and sometimes controversial part of Guyana’s history, these experiences shaped the country. With English being spoken throughout the country, tourists from the United States and England will find it easy to visit and find out more about the local culture.
Guyana is well worth a look for trading, investment, and tourism partnership. Don’t overlook the potential to work with, and visit, this South American country.