Promise to Deepen Relations
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) – Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago held talks on Wednesday aimed at improving the bilateral relationships between the two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.
President David Granger described the talks as “intense” while the visiting Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said the talks were “very cordial” and should set the stage for deeper relations between two of the biggest countries within the 15-member CARICOM integration grouping.
“We have had a very long and fruitful relationship from a strategic point of view, Trinidad and Tobago has always supported Guyana in its rejection of the territorial claim by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. We have always regarded Trinidad and Tobago as a very close friend,” Granger said, after the two leaders exchanged copies of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlining their new areas of cooperation.
“Today we have taken the step forward in signing this MOU which is largely concerned with cooperation in energy,” Granger said, adding “There are other areas of interest and we extended our conversations to deal with agriculture, to deal with sports and youth, to deal with security (and) to deal with cooperation in other fields”.
Granger said as a result of this engagement, the two countries expect their relations ‘to become stronger,” adding “we see ourselves as a foundation for the Caribbean Community.
“What we are doing is strengthening the Caribbean Community. Guyana is the head office of CARICOM, but as I often say we are a continental state with Caribbean characteristics and today’s meeting has been a clear redefinition and reassertion of our Caribbean identity.
“There’s much that we have to learn from Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago is one of the most developed countries in the Caribbean in terms of its economy, in terms of manufacturing , in terms of exports, in terms of standard of living…and Guyana of course if the largest CARICOM state”
He said his country has an abundance of raw materials, natural resources “and we are confident that by collaborating we will be able to combine the natural resources of Guyana with the entrepreneurial expertise, capital and investment from Trinidad and Tobago”.
Granger said that the new level of cooperation is a “win-win situation and I would say for the Caribbean Community on a whole this is a significant step in making the Caribbean even stronger.”
For his part, Rowley said that his country has been and continues to be a “gateway to the world” for Guyana.
“What today represents is a documentation of our commitment to do more in our neighbourly relations with respect to the generation of economic and other kinds of relations that will benefit the people of Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago”.
Rowley, who led a delegation that included his Foreign Affairs Minister, Dennis Moses and the Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis, said he expects the private sectors in both countries to seize the opportunities available to both countries.
He said the meeting also discussed the issue of “invisible borders” in the efforts to improve relations between the two countries “and to put those resources whether they be financial, raw material or entrepreneurial skills to work so as to grow the economies of Guyana and of Trinidad and Tobago.
“We should not be held back by the bureaucratic impediments,” Rowley said, making reference to efforts by regional governments also to ensure the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services through the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
He said that regional leaders will be meeting in Trinidad and Tobago December 3-4 for a special summit on the CSME.
“The reason for that is that we have come to a point and a place in time that we are now being forced by circumstances surrounding us within the region and circumstances upon us from outside the region, forcing us to accept that we need to address this issue with some deeper concern and some may say finality,” Rowley told reporters.
“We anticipate that as impetus, while not being deliberate that the presence of Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi of India (who) is a visitor and supporter of the CARICOM should encourage us to make the most of that development.”
Rowley said he wanted to acknowledge that the meeting with President Granger and his delegation “was very cordial” and that the teams would be meeting soon “to bring about the action that we expect to either initiate, ameliorate or generate the kinds of outcome that we expect that would contribute to the growth of our economies and the sustenance of our peoples.” – CMC