Despite geopolitical tensions and rumblings within the Guyanese government, Guyana is open for business.
The South American country is on the cusp of its first oil boom, and Tax and Legal Services Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers Angelique Bart said yesterday there was huge potential for TT businesses to tap into that growth.
Speaking at a breakfast seminar on expanding into Guyana, at the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Westmoorings building yesterday, Bart said cultural similarities, Caricom incentives and geographic distance were among some of the reasons companies should look to Guyana for expanding.
"Some of you may have seen in the news there is some controversy surrounding its borders particularly with Suriname and Venezuela. This could be an important issue if you are going into the market and do business, but I think it's relatively safe to say there is a lot of respect for the boundaries as we know them," Bart said. The country is also facing internal political shake-up when last month, the ruling party lost a vote of no confidence in Parliament when one of its own MPs sided with the Opposition.
Of course, from a Trinidadian perspective language and culture are very big things, she added. "If you are based in TT and going in, it will definitely be a plus because some of the nuances of working in a Caribbean market will give you some experience along those lines."
Bart said with the discovery of a tenth oil well by the ExxonMobil-led consortium, Guyana was poised to become one of the largest oil-producing countries in the next five years and urged TT businesses to take advantage of this by expanding their operations by providing support services, such as financial services and logistics. Commercial oil production is expected to start next year. Bart added that while the development of gas production was in its infancy it was expected to begin within the next two years.
"Oil and gas reserves are estimated to be (worth billions of dollars) and production is expected to be between 500 to 800 million barrels of oil per day. So in terms of energy-related activity, it's been phenomenal in terms of what is available. There is a plan for gas to hit on shore Guyana within the next two years," she said.
One of the benefits of moving to Guyana, she said, was the abundance of land for purchase and limited restrictions for property development. Commercial pricing, though, was on the rise.
Bart said Guyana experienced an increase in the level of foreign direct investment from US $96.1 million in the first six months of 2017 to US $109.1 million for the same period in 2018. CEO of the Guyana Office for Investment Owen Verwey, who also spoke at the meeting, said businesses considering expanding to Guyana were doing so at a time of investment and prosperity.