Making the most of the Takutu Bridge
By Stabroek staff August 28, 2009 in Business
Last week’s forum convened by the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association on doing business with Brazil in the wake of the opening of the much anticipated Takutu Bridge was illuminating not only because it enabled face-to-face dialogue on the cross-border trade but also for its exposing of the lack of business readiness at the country’s southernmost entrepot.
When it was his turn to speak of the anxieties that Brazilian businessmen harbour about their English-speaking neighbour to the north, Head of Administration in the Brazilian Embassy in Georgetown, Rodrigo Govedise was quite straightforward: many Brazilians do not know what Guyana has to offer. So, notwithstanding a partial scope trade agreement that has subsisted for many years and periodic excursions to the state of Roraima which have included Go-Invest, other agencies and ministries, the proximate Brazilian business partners of the business-starved Guyana are not well aware of what ventures or products could be rolled out here or Guyanese goods sold in Bom Fin. Sad.
There is clearly a lot more work that the Private Sector Commission, its constituents, Go-Invest and the Ministry of Commerce can do enlighten businessmen across the Takutu about the business opportunities here. Mr Govedise himself advised this and added that to raise the kind of awareness that was necessary, he recommended that the business sector host fairs and exhibitions to help generate the necessary Brazilian interest and create links. Advertising was also among his proposals but he pointed out it was costly in Brazil. Once links were established, business trips were expected to be made by the Guyanese as this was part of the Brazilian business culture.
Reliability and full knowledge of their products were also crucial factors, he opined. According to our report last week, he said “So if you make the offer, you keep it. If you change you could have legal problems and they could become very skeptical in the future” – sage advice for a business community which has not had a sparkling reputation in recent years.
Transportation by sea was important and Meta Airlines was looking at expanding service, he said. There would ostensibly have to be a substantial increase in business before Meta spreads its wings. Mr Govedise then ventured into a rather more complicated but equally exhilarating proposal – a seaport in either Georgetown or New Amsterdam to receive produce destined for the Brazilian market and to also facilitate trade with Caribbean neighbours.
This, of course, has been spoken of blithely by politicians and policymakers in Georgetown without any real seriousness attached to it. Afterall it would entail much money both for the port and the upgrading of the road to Lethem and would have to be preceded by numerous studies and impact statements.
Such a development would also have huge environmental, political and foreign relations implications and therefore would have to be treaded on carefully. That is not to say that the project isn’t a visionary one with huge opportunities for Guyana. One rather suspects that the Low Carbon Development Strategy would now be one of the factors in this matter. The mentioning of the seaport by Mr Govedise is significant as it indicates the deep interest in Brasilia for such a facility.
Mr Govedise also addressed more humdrum matters of doing business such as problems experienced in tendering traveller’s cheques – an indicator of the undeveloped state of business relations between the two communities. Mr Richard Winter, proprietor of the Arawak leather factory related that his experience was a difficult one in that he was first advised to carry travellers’ cheques but had to travel to three states before he was able to change them.
Mr Winter also observed that some Brazilian businessmen were reluctant to do business and issue the relevant documentation which showed that the required taxes had been paid. Further, US currency which is waved all over the place by Guyanese is not well tolerated as the Brazilian Federal Bank has tight regulations on the use of foreign currency. That issues of this type are still on the agenda shows that there isn’t as yet in place a deep, interactive and structured relationship between the two business communities.
Also addressing the gathering was the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Carolyn Rodrigues whose statistics affirmed the undeveloped state of trade ties. She said an analysis of trade for the period 2004-07 under the Partial Scope Agreement between the two countries showed that exports were limited to fewer than ten products yearly, and were confined mainly to wood and wood products and bauxite.
So the infrastructure that would enable trade between the two countries to flourish for the mutual benefit of the two peoples has to be speeded up both in terms of the facilities, laws and regulations, marketing and personnel. It was well known that while Bom Fin had been upgraded to a well-appointed trading city, Lethem was left to lag to the chagrin of its anxious citizens. The government recently set about trying to redress that situation by assigning plots of land for long-planned expansion projects for Lethem businessmen; a bit late in the piece but nevertheless welcome. How quickly these businessmen set up their enterprises and the success they have in cajoling the government for more infrastructure and support facilities could be the difference between booming trade with the attendant benefits for the people of Lethem and an uncertain trickle across the Takutu
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Nota del editor del blog: Al referenciarse a la República Cooperativa de Guyana se deben de tener en cuenta los 159.500Km2, de territorios ubicados al oeste del río Esequibo conocidos con el nombre de Guayana Esequiba o Zona en Reclamación sujetos al Acuerdo de Ginebra del 17 de febrero de 1966.
Territorios estos sobre los cuales el gobierno Venezolano en representación de la Nación venezolana se reservo sus derechos sobre los territorios de la Guayana Esequiba en su nota del 26 de mayo de 1966 al reconocerse al nuevo Estado de Guyana .
“...por lo tanto, Venezuela reconoce como territorio del nuevo Estado, el que se sitúa al este de la margen derecha del río Esequibo y reitera ante la comunidad internacional, que se reserva expresamente sus derechos de soberanía territorial sobre la zona que se encuentra en la margen izquierda del precitado río; en consecuencia, el territorio de la Guayana Esequiba sobre el cual Venezuela se reserva expresamente sus derechos soberanos, limita al Este con el nuevo Estado de Guyana, a través de la línea del río Esequibo, tomando éste desde su nacimiento hasta su desembocadura en el Océano Atlántico...”
¿Quién aprovechará al máximo el Puente sobre el rió Tucutù en la Zona en Reclamación?