Guyana advances bilateral talks with Dominican Republic on Private Sector partnerships

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

Guyana on Tuesday advanced bilateral talks with the Dominican Republic (DR), whose application for associate membership in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Guyana has also agreed to support.

It was announced that President Dr. Irfaan Ali held talks with his Dominican Republic counterpart, Luis Abinader, on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) where a UN Security Council debate on the impact of climate change and food insecurity on the maintenance of international peace and security was held.

According to a statement from President Ali, these talks were focused on “expanding and enhancing the current bilateral partnership between the two countries, especially as it relates to enhancing private-sector collaboration.”

With Guyana having assumed the Chairmanship of CARICOM from January 1 to June 30, 2024, it was also announced that President Ali has committed to supporting DR’s application to be an associate member of CARICOM.

CARICOM is made up of 15 members and five associate members including Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos, all British Overseas Territories. According to President Ali, DR has much that it can contribute to CARICOM.

“As Chair of CARICOM, President Ali committed to supporting the Dominican Republic’s application for an associate member position of the regional body. He said that the sophistication of the Dominican Republic’s private sector allows for greater integration in opportunities emerging from the Caribbean Community, including areas of transport and logistics and agro-processing,” the statement explained.

Meanwhile, Abinader also lauded President Ali’s leadership within CARICOM and further, the country’s role at the United Nations Security Council. Last year, Guyana was elected to serve as a non-permanent member of the UNSC in 2024, taking up that seat in January

“Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Hugh Todd; Permanent Representative of Guyana to the UN, Ambassador Carolyn Rodrigues—Birkett; Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud and the Dominican Republic’s Minister of External Relations, the Honourable Roberto Alvarez were also part of the meeting,” the statement explained.

Guyana and the Dominican Republic have been making efforts to strengthen bilateral ties in recent years. Only last year, President Ali had signed several agreements with Abinader during an official two-day visit to that country. These agreements included one for the joint establishment of an oil refinery in Guyana.

In the months leading up to the signing, ties between Guyana and the DR had grown closer as the leaders of the two countries met at various forums. President Ali continued those bilateral efforts when he and First Lady Arya Ali arrived in the Dominican Republic for their visit along with a large delegation of Government officials and members of Guyana’s private sector.

As per the terms of the agreement, the DR will have 51 per cent ownership of the refinery. At present, the Government has gone out to tender for proposals to build a refinery in Berbice with a 30,000 barrels per day (bpd) capacity. Last month, it was revealed that four out of the 11 companies that had submitted proposals last year have been shortlisted.

When it comes to agriculture, it is understood that joint production of agricultural products such as corn and soybeans, as well as partnerships in the poultry sector, were discussed. According to President Ali, the agreements in agriculture between the two countries will ensure their prominence at the table whenever food security is discussed.In June 2023, President Abinader had himself arrived in Guyana for a one-day visit where talks progressed about potential collaboration.

Following bilateral talks between President Ali and President Abinader at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre in Greater Georgetown, senior Ministers from the two nations signed three pacts to strengthen collaboration, including a MoU on cooperation in energy-related matters.

This MoU established a framework to facilitate and enhance bilateral cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector of the two countries based on equality and mutual benefit. It included the promotion of investments in each other’s countries, as well as technology transfer, research and development, the building of human resources and collaboration in the natural gas sector.