Join GlobalBizzNetwork and start your international business network today.
Guyana is a country of vast, often untapped, natural resources. Endowed with extensive savannahs, productive land and forests, rich mineral deposits of gold, bauxite and diamonds, abundant water resources and Atlantic coastline, the country presents dynamic business opportunities across multiple sectors of the economy. While recognized globally as a sugar and rice producer, much of its agricultural potential is yet to be realized, especially with regard to fresh and processed fruits and vegetables. Its forestry potential is just beginning to be realized, particularly in the realm of value-added wood products. Its extensive network of rivers and Atlantic coastline provide ideal conditions for both seafood and aquaculture. Finally, its pristine environment, unspoiled rainforest and exotic fauna and natural attractions, which include the famous Kaieteur Falls, the highest single drop waterfalls in the world, makes Guyana a highly attractive location for eco- and adventure tourism.
Guyana’s unique geographic positioning and its socio-political heritage put it at the gateway of South America and the Caribbean. On one hand, its Caribbean and English-speaking heritage enables Guyana to be part of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), while on the other, it is a South American country, neighboring two of the most important economies on the continent – Brazil and Venezuela. As a result of its geographic proximity, Guyana has easy access to 277 million consumers, and a US$130+ billion export market with an overall purchasing power of over US$2 trillion.
Through a combination of regional, bilateral and preferential agreements, about 75 percent of Guyana’s exports enter destination markets duty free, with many others receiving duty-reduced access. This is achieved through Guyana’s membership of CARICOM, which provides duty-free access to the 15-nation CARICOM market, CARICOM agreements with the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba and Venezuela, partial scope agreements with Brazil and Venezuela, and bilateral agreements with Argentina, China and Turkey. Guyana also benefits from preferential duty-free or reduced-duty access to major developed country markets through CARIBCAN (Canada), the U.S. Caribbean Trade Partnership and the European Union’s (EU) ACP Contonou Agreement.
Guyana is the only English-speaking nation in South America. Investors contemplating the installation and operation of service enterprises will find this a distinct advantage. This is especially true for those involved in the growing IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) markets in North America, as well as businesses conducting operations to support the activities of large corporations worldwide, and those serving English-speaking tourism markets.
Guyana has one of the most competitive wage rates when compared to Latin America and the Caribbean. The labor force is well educated, with literacy estimated at close to 99 percent, and is regarded as trainable and hard working.
Openness to Investment
Both public and private sector leaders have declared Guyana ‘open for business’. Foreign investors receive the same treatment as domestic investors. Guyana provides an array of across-the-board investment incentives, including a flat business tax rate, tax holidays, waivers of customs duties, export tax allowances, and unrestricted repatriation of profits, as well as additional incentives in priority export sectors. Furthermore, Guyana’s investment promotion agency, GO-Invest, provides effective support to investors before, during and after an investment has been realized.
Guyana’s vast tracts of productive land present enormous opportunities for growth. Indeed, agriculture already represents a significant proportion of Guyana’s domestic production (approximately 19.4 percent of GDP in 2016).
In 2017, the New Guyana Marketing Corporation (New GMC) recorded a 25% increase in non-traditional agricultural exports when compared to the previous year, valued at GY $3.6 billion or US $17 million. Hence, while Guyana’s traditional Agriculture such as rice and sugar products continue to account for a significant percent of Guyana’s exports, it is obvious that the value and share of processed goods and fresh fruit and vegetable exports have experienced a positive growth trend in recent years. This is a result of efforts by the Government and the private sector to diversify Guyana’s agricultural sector. Therefore, with the right investments, Guyana could easily become the ‘breadbasket of the Caribbean’ while at the same time increasing exports to markets in North America and Europe.
Traditional Agriculture Products
Sugar – Changes in the global trading environment, such as the reduction of guaranteed prices for sugar in the E.U., have placed pressure on Guyana’s traditional agricultural exports. The Government of Guyana has recently made a decision to cease operation in a majority of Sugar Estates as sugar production is no longer feasible and profitable for Guyana. The government of Guyana is currently seeking Expressions of Interest from Perspective Investors as they divest the large amounts of lands and factory facilities owned by the Sugar Corporation.
Rice – As a result of an increase in global rice prices, Guyana was able to enjoy an increase in its export earnings which also saw farmers benefiting from increased prices paid per bag of paddy.
According to the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), export figures for Rice in 2017 surpassed that of 2016 and 2015. Exports for 2016 stood at 500,000, while as of December 18, 2017, exports were recorded at 535,843 tonnes with a value of about US$200,000,000. Guyana continues to work to increase yields and secure better market opportunities for it’s producers.
Non-Traditional Agricultural Exports
Although Guyana’s mature traditional industries will continue to play an important role in Guyana’s economy, the non-traditional agriculture sector is beginning to show high growth potential. For example, agro-processing exports (i.e., prepared food and molasses) experienced significant growth within the last five years. There was also an increase of exports in the prepared foods market (i.e., jams and jellies, coconut milk, spices, pasta, etc.). With investments in production, facilities, quality assurance, and processing, non-traditional agriculture could become an engine of export growth.
FreshfruitsGuyana’s comparative advantages in diversified agriculture include:
- Diverse Agricultural Environments – Guyana is endowed with an abundance of diverse agricultural environments, which include: 1) highly fertile soils in the coastal areas—currently used extensively for rice and sugarcane production—with large parcels of flat irrigated land that can be used for fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy and beef production (Guyana has been certified as foot-and-mouth free); and 2) intermediate savannahs with untapped opportunities to produce beef, milk, mutton, citrus, corn, cashew nuts, legumes, peanuts, soybeans, dairy products, and orchard crops. The savannahs have large tracts of brown soils that are well drained and responsive to fertilization, creating an ideal environment for the application of high technology and the establishment of medium/large scale agriculture operations.
- Organic cropland – Guyana has large expanses of land that have never been used for modern agriculture and remain totally free of agricultural chemicals. These lands could be certified for organic production within one year, as opposed to the traditional three-year certification process.
- Irrigation – Nearly 30 percent of Guyana’s cropland is currently irrigated.
- Agricultural Population – Whereas the populations of most Caribbean countries have become urbanized, over 50 percent of Guyana’s population remains rural and closely linked to agriculture.
- Trainable Farmers – Guyana’s farmers are eager to learn new methods and practices, such that technology transfer occurs quickly when the appropriate systems are put in place, resulting in an immediate impact on productivity and quality.
- Markets – Guyana’s proximity to the CARICOM and North American markets enables exporters to supply consumers with fresh produce as well as meet the demands of a growing food processing industry in the region. Many products receive duty-free or reduced duty access to regional markets.
Key opportunities in the non-traditional agriculture export sector include:
- Fresh Fruits – International demand for fresh fruit is growing. Market potential exists for citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and limes, as well as exotic fruits such as mangoes, sapodillas, papayas, pineapples, and passion fruit. However, exporters must be able to establish modern post-harvest handling and quality systems to prevent spoilage in transit, and must meet international phytosanitary controls. Additional value can be achieved by shipping selected fruits to destination markets by air, thereby ensuring maximum freshness. In addition to exportation, opportunities exist for fruit farmers to supply the tourism industry as well as the expanding agro-processing industry in Guyana and the Caribbean.
- Fresh Vegetables – Export opportunities exist for a range of vegetables such as cucumber, pumpkins, watermelon, melon, saeme, bora, and callalloo within the Caribbean and North American markets. However, Guyana’s ability to supply international markets is currently hampered by the time required to transport its products to market. An increase in airlift capacity would create enormous export opportunities for this sector. In addition to fresh produce, current opportunities exist to supply Guyanese or Caribbean food processors with raw inputs.
- Plantains, Roots and Tubers – There is potential to increase Guyana’s exports of selected plantain, roots and tubers to ethnic markets in the Caribbean, North America and Europe. Opportunities also exist for malanga, breadfruit and ground provisions as raw inputs in the snack food industry.
- Organic Products – As noted above, Guyana has large tracts of land free of agricultural chemicals, providing a unique opportunity to meet a growing demand for organic products in North America and Europe. In most cases, organic products receive a premium price compared to their conventional counterparts. Organic cocoa, pineapple and heart of palm are already being grown for export. Organic products could also find a welcome market within Guyana and throughout the Caribbean among hotels and restaurants that serve discriminating tourists.
- Herbs and Spices – There is growing demand in the Caribbean, North America and Europe for hot peppers, eschallots, celery and other ingredients for seasoning, all of which grow abundantly in various parts of Guyana.
- Livestock and Dairy Products – There are excellent investment opportunities for the production of meat (beef and mutton), poultry products, milk and milk products for both domestic consumption and export to the Caribbean. In particular, Guyana’s savannahs provide a favorable environment for medium to large-scale cattle raising. Guyana has been certified as foot-and-mouth free, providing it with favorable access to many markets.
- Processed Foods – Opportunities exist for processing, or semi-processing, produce and animal products. Already, Guyana’s exotic and gourmet food products are in demand in Caribbean, North American and European markets. Products with a large growth potential include jams, jellies, sauces, processed spices and fruit puree blends.
- Agricultural Support Services – Since the non-traditional agricultural sector is still emerging, there is an ongoing need for investment in inputs, machinery, and support services. In particular, there are opportunities for air cargo service providers to expand flights for agricultural exports, as well as for investments in cold storage facilities, post-harvest handling, and packaging services.
Guyana provides a number of opportunities for investors within the energy sector, particularly with regards to petroleum, gas, hydropower generation. Guyana’s current energy policy seeks to ensure that stable, reliable and affordable energy is provided to all persons in Guyana within an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable framework.
In the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), Guyana has committed to develop a mix of wind, solar, biomass and hydropower to supply both the demand of the national grid and the energy requirements for towns and villages in Guyana’s hinterland. Notably, with adequate and timely investors, an ambitious target of achieving close to 100% renewable energy in the power sector by 2025 has been set. To support the transition from the use of imported fossil fuels towards indigenous and renewable energy sources, the Government of Guyana is working to ensure that the appropriate enabling frameworks are in place, which include the National Energy Policy, the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) and fiscal incentives. Consequently, the first phase of updating our National Energy Policy has been completed, this will be going through a series of public consultations during 2018 before finalization. The overall goals of the policy are to provide a stable, reliable, and economic supply of energy; reduce our dependency on imported fuels; promote, where possible, the increased utilisation of domestic resources; and ensure that energy is used in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner. The policy will therefore form the bedrock for addressing issues on energy access, energy security, climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation.
Also, the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS), which articulates Guyana’s long-term development agenda towards a green economy, provides the overarching framework in which the National Energy Policy will be integrated. One of the central themes of the strategy is the transition towards renewable energy and greater energy independence as the strategy also places significant emphasis on ensuring the full delivery of a modernised energy sector, with an increased mix of clean and renewable energy resources.
Guyana has vast forest resources that cover more than three-quarters of its landmass and contain over 1,000 different tree varieties. Currently, 120 species are being logged in various forms, with between 12 and 15 of these logged on a commercial scale through a system of concessions. The most sought after species include Greenheart (Colubrinaarborescens or Chlorocardiumrodiei), Mora (Mora excelsa and Mora gonggrijpii), Baromalli (Catostemmaaltsonii), Purpleheart (Peltogynespp), Crabwood (Carapaguianensis), Kabakalli (Goupiaglabra), and Wamara (Bocoaprouacensis).
The downsizing of a key player (Barama) within the forestry sector has influenced the Forestry Sector performance within the last few years. In 2016, the Forestry Sector contribute 2.27 percent to Guyana’s GDP. In fact, the Forest Sector’s contribution towards GDP over the past years had been relatively stable since 2011 at the close to 3% mark. Guyana’s total forest products exports were valued at US$41.9M.
The Asia/Pacific region continues to be the largest market for Guyana’s forest products accounting for 49.4% of total export earnings in 2016 with a value totaling US$20.7M. This represents a continued high demand market. In 2016, India was the single largest destination for Guyana’s timber products which was followed closely by China. The Latin America/Caribbean region was the second largest regional market destination for Guyana’s forest produce with value earned in 2016 totaling US$11.5M and accounting for 27.4% of total export value. Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago continue to be the major destinations for Guyana’s forest produce within the Caribbean/Latin America region with a total combined export value of US$4.99M. Cumulative export value for the other four (4) regional markets (Africa, Europe, North America, and South America) totaled US$9.73M.
Information & Communication Technology
Recently, Guyana has experienced the emergence of a small, but growing IT-enabled Services industry with both domestic and foreign investment in call centres and back-office processing operations. Some of the investors have included Guyana as part of a network of business process outsourcing (BPO) centres located in Latin America. Presently there are six (6) Business Process Outsourcing (call centres) companies in Guyana doing Outbound Sales / Telemarketing, Inbound Customer Support, Voicemail Transcription, Medical Records Transcription and Data Warehousing. This sector currently employs approximately four thousand (4000) persons.
Guyana’s manufacturing industry contributes about 4 percent towards the country’s GDP and employs approximately 12 percent of the population. Traditionally, the manufacturing sector has been dedicated to the processing of traditional agricultural products (e.g. sugar, rice), forest products and minerals (bauxite, gold and diamonds), basic consumer items, food and beverages, and pharmaceuticals for local consumption. While these traditional manufacturing activities remain important, there is a growing interest to expand value-added, export-oriented manufacturing industries such as:
- Garments and apparel manufacturing
- Value-added/manufactured forest products – furniture, flooring, doors, plywood, veneer, etc.
- Agro industries – processing, canning and bottling of agricultural produce; fertilizers and insecticides
- Packaging – manufacture of packaging materials and containers for transport of finished products
- Leather craft – manufacture of leather products and souvenirs
- Ceramics – manufacture of articles constructed of clay, kaolin and silica sand
- Construction Materials – stone, cement, clay blocks, tiles, glass, glass products and machining.
Situated on the mineral rich Guyana Shield, Guyana has attracted international interest from the largest mining companies in the world. While the mining sector is primarily focused on gold, bauxite and diamonds, Guyana also contains deposits of semi-precious stones, laterite, manganese, kaolin, sand resources, radioactive minerals, copper, molybdenum, tungsten, iron, and nickel among others. Guyana produces high-value refractory-A grade bauxite, which is produced nowhere else except China.
The mining and quarrying sector represents a critical component of Guyana’s economy, the sector contributed 15.4 percent of Guyana’s GDP, a 4.5 percent increase from it’s 2015 contribution. Additionally, the extractive industries accounted for approx. 52% of Guyana’s total exports in 2016. This growth was fostered by an upsurge in gold declarations by local and foreign mining companies.
As in other areas of the economy, the Government has looked to private industry—and international investors in particular—to expand opportunities for the bauxite sector. In February 2007, Government gave its consent for China’s Bosai Minerals Group to acquire the 70% share in the Linden bauxite operations that were previously held by Canadian based IAMGOLD, which is the parent company of Omai Bauxite Mining Inc. Bosai paid US$46M for this acquisition with Government retaining its 30% share. The Berbice bauxite plant, Aroaima Mining Company, was also privatized. The Russian aluminum giant RUSAL, acquired a 90% stake in the Berbice operations at a cost of US$20M. The remaining 10% is owned by Government.
The services sector is growing steadily and has been making an increasing contribution to our overall economic performance in recent years. The information and communication sector is projected to expand by 4.5 percent as businesses continue to embrace and take advantage of the latest digital technology while the construction industry is targeted to grow by 10 percent spurred by continued growth in private sector housing construction and by key projects in the public sector investment programme entering the construction phase. The continued expansion of the transportation and storage industry is a prerequisite for improved efficiency of operations of most sectors and following on last year’s exceptional performance, the sector is projected to expand by 7.8 percent in 2013. The wholesale and retail sector is projected to expand by 6.5 percent while financial services are estimated to grow by 12 percent as the sector continues to respond to increased economic activity in all sectors. With private sector construction continuing to grow, rental of dwellings will be the direct beneficiary and is projected to grow further by 4 percent. Electricity, water, education, health and social services are projected to grow by 4, 3.5 and 4.4 percent respectively while other services are projected to grow by 8 percent.
The services sector really is considered to be everything outside of Manufacturing, Tourism, Mining, Agriculture, Energy, ICT and Wood Products. This includes:
- Housing – This includes developing Housing Schemes, Gated Communities, Different means of Housing such as Pre-Fab Houses, etc.
- Construction – This Subsector is currently developing rapidly with more persons building their own houses as well as Investors Diversifying into Restaurants, Hotels, etc.
- Restaurants – the food Business is currently quite Lucrative and as such more restaurants and Fast food entities are being introduced into the Guyanese Economy.
- Consultancy – Guyana has a mass of specialists who are currently freelancing or developing their own Businesses so as to offer their services to the Private and Public Sectors.
- Courier – As the pace of doing Business in Guyana develops, there is more need for specialize services such as Courier or Messenger Services.
- Education – This Subsector is currently developing with several Local and Foreign Universities entering the local market.
- Port – Guyana can be considered the Gateway to South America (From the Caribbean Perspective) and the Gateway to the Caribbean and North American (from the South American Perspective). Hence there is a need for more Port Facilities so as to accommodate the shipping of Produce.
- Insurance – As the economy develops there is a need by Investors to protect their assets. The insured entities are therefore protected from risk for a fee with the fee being dependent upon the frequency and severity of the event occurring. In order to be an insurable risk, the risk insured against must meet certain characteristics.
- Music & Film – This Subsector is developing slowly but surely with local talent seeking to develop and promote the industry.
- Fashion – This is currently a developing industry here in Guyana, hence Investment Opportunities exist in the Innovative realm of this Industry.
- Security – As the Business Sector develops, the need and demand for Private Security becomes greater. This is a rapidly growing subsector.
- Funeral Home – Funeral Homes is a growing field since persons are modernizing and moving away from Local Cultural Practices of Homes Storage and Burial.
- Entertainment – this Subsector ranges from Cinemas to Bowling Alleys. Guyanese are starved for clean local Entertainment.
- Machining – This Subsector includes the Fabricating, Welding, Machining and Rebuilding of machines, equipment and parts.
- Pharmaceuticals and Cosmetics – There has been an increase in persons interested in producing Medicines and Cosmetics from Natural Herbs and Vegetation found in Guyana.
- Retail – The core of Business in Guyana are Retail based; this Subsector includes Supermarkets, Electronics Stores, Gas Stations, etc.
- Shipping and Transportation – With a rapidly expanding economy there is a growing demand for shipping and transportation services. The Transportation Subsector includes Bus Services, Ferry Services, Trucking Services and other modes of Transportation.
- Medical – The Medical Subsector is constantly developing, expanding and upgrading. This includes Private Hospitals, Clinics and Medical Universities.
- Solid Waste management and Recycling – Investment Opportunities exist for the collection and disposal of solid waste and recycling. Investments in this Subsector will contribute significantly to the enhancement of the environment and the generation of alternative sources of energy.
- Environmental – This Subsector includes Firms engaged in Landscaping as well as waste management and the provision of environmental services and consultancies such as Environmental Management Systems and Permits.
Guyana’s unspoiled beauty, unique cultural heritage and natural attractions make it an ideal destination for tourists. As opposed to the sun and sand tourism product offered by many of its Caribbean neighbors, Guyana offers a distinct product-vast open spaces, savannahs, virgin rainforests, mountains, huge rivers and waterfalls, the most famous of which is the majestic Kaieteur Falls, known to be the highest single drop waterfall in the world and five times taller than Niagara Falls. Guyana also boasts abundant wildlife, numerous species of flora, a variety of fauna and spectacular birdlife. These sites are accessible by land, air and river and are served by high-quality eco-resorts in the interior. The capital, Georgetown, is well known for its picturesque, tree-lined avenues, bustling markets, and wooden buildings, including the renowned St. George’s Cathedral, reportedly the world’s tallest wooden building.
The growth in tourism continues at a steady pace, with visitor arrivals totaling 170,322 between January to September of 2017, a 5.7 percent increase over the same period in 2016. With worldwide growth in adventure, cultural and eco-tourism, Guyana’s appeal as an alternative to the standard Caribbean sun and sand destination is underscored by its market niches such as bird watching, sport fishing and yachting. At the same time, there are numerous opportunities resulting from the construction of many hotels, for instance, the Marriot Hotel. With increase visitor arrival, increase hotel rooms comes the expansion of our major international airport (CheddiJagan International Airport) and improved status of our once domestic airport (Eugene F. Correia International Airport formerly Ogle International Airport) to a Certified Regional Class Airport.
Recognizing the potential of Guyana’s tourism product and the likely economic impact of a dynamic tourism sector, Guyana’s government and private sector leaders have taken a number of steps to facilitate the development of this sector. The development of the Tourism Sector in Guyana remains a priority of the Government of Guyana, and as such Mr. Dominic Gaskin, Minister of Business was appointed as the Minister responsible for tourism. Additionally, the introduction of a Tourism Studies Unit at the University of Guyana, the establishment of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), and the formation of the private sector Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) provides support to the sectoral development. The Government also provides the industry with support through national efforts to market Guyana as a tourist destination, including the innovative creation and airing of video commercials to showcase tourism attractions on regional airlines, as well as attractive incentives for investments in new or expanded facilities and services.
Opportunities within the Tourism Sector
While enormous tourism potential exists, there is an ongoing need for investments that develop and upgrade the facilities and services that make up Guyana’s tourism product. Since the tourism sector is still in the early stages of development, current investors can benefit from ‘first mover’ status and the choice of diverse investment opportunities:
- Existing attractions and activities – There are opportunities for investments that improve Guyana’s existing tourism products and attractions. These include the development of the Kaieteur Park area as a major tourist destination, recreational facilities and activities (e.g. rafting, boating, tennis, horseback riding and golf), and accommodations (e.g. eco-lodges or resorts) in the interior.
- Niche market products – Aside from the current adventure and eco-tourism products that Guyana offers, opportunities exist for the development of niche tourism markets and the services to support these new markets. For example, there is a need for investments in the infrastructure, facilities and services to support market segments such as bird watching, yachting and deep-sea or river fishing.
- Hospitality services in Georgetown – There are ongoing opportunities for investments in new hotels and restaurants able to meet the demands of discriminating international tourists and business people. Business tourism services – Guyana’s emerging World Class Oil and Gas discoveries as well as Guyana’s status as the home of the CARICOM Secretariat, presents opportunities for investors to develop business services (e.g. convention services, catering, VIP transport, communications, etc.) targeting international business people, multilateral organizations and non-governmental organizations.
- Transportation services – As Guyana’s tourism industry grows, there is an increasing need to expand the availability of tourism-related transportation services. In particular, this includes an expansion of scheduled and chartered air services to and from Guyana, as well as boat and car rental services.
- Craft Industry – Guyana has several established craft shops, but increased interest and demand for these crafts provide opportunities to expand production.