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Guyana opens its doors to the world

Published: 
Thursday, February 8, 2018

In 2015, ExxonMobil discovered oil off the coast of Guyana.

It was a game changer that threw one of the Western Hemisphere’s most underdeveloped countries into the limelight with the potential to earn huge revenue in the future.

Apart from oil, Guyana has been able to stabilise its economy and has one of the region’s highest gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates, growing between three per cent to four per cent annually in the last few years.

This GDP growth rate is higher than T&T and Jamaica with much bigger populations.

New restaurants, hotels and other signs of development have also lit up Guyana from a new Pizza Hut restaurant to a new Marriott Hotel which opened in 2015 to a MovieTowne branch opening in 2018.

The MovieTowne complex at Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara is set to open in 2018, according to an advertisement in the Sunday Stabroek in November.

Last week exporTT visited Guyana on a two-day mission carrying mix of 14 goods and services companies from T&T to explore new market opportunities there.

In a statement to Business and Money, exporTT thanked all the participants of the Guyana mission who were responsible for the overall success of the project.

“Guyanese entrepreneurs were very happy to receive the T&T manufacturers and service providers to complement their own industry or service offering in the market. exporTT was capable of building the trade relations between Guyana and T&T as there were mutual complimentaries of trade by both parties and we look forward to such arrangements in the future and growing relationships with our Guyana counterparts.”

The group said it was able to match buyers with sellers for both days of the mission and the sellers from T&T were extremely satisfied with the outcomes of the meetings.

“The T&T delegation must follow up with the buyers whom they would have met during the mission to close the arrangements. There were success stories from most of the participants who already received orders whilst others are analysing their choice of distributors, and some are negotiating the best options for all involved.”

Some of the participants from T&T’s delegation also spoke to Business and Money on their experiences and what came out of the trip for them.

Hotel Direct: Unlimited potential

Sanjay Ablack, managing director, Hotel Direct based in San Fernando, told Business and Money that the mission to Guyana was a success for his company.

“The meetings that exporTT had set up for us, the match making events, we got to the meet the actual people that we wanted to meet.

“The decision makers at the hotel properties, distributors that could handle our products and so on. What they had planned for us worked well for us.”

They supply shampoo and other related items for hotel rooms.

“In hotel rooms there are shampoos and conditioners, soaps and shower caps and so on. We supply that stuff to the Caricom region.”

Speaking about why they went on the trip to Guyana, he said because of the business that they are in, they need to expand regionally.

“T&T only has a certain amount of hotels just like everywhere else. So we have to start working with all the other Caricom countries in the region.”

He also spoke about the recent oil discoveries made there and said this creates a base for future development of the country.

“There will be much more people going to Guyana from the United States, Europe and other places who are well travelled and they will expect certain things from the properties there.

That’s why we pretty much went down to offer things to them that will enhance the image of the hotel rooms and place things there that they didn’t have before to keep it at the level of the international client that would be coming in.”

He said they expect to get a lot of business from Guyana very soon.

“We have the products here in T&T already so it is just to finalise a couple things with some of the properties across there and then we will look at exporting. Apart from the energy discoveries, there has been a double-digit increase in their tourist arrivals. So from an eco-tourism standpoint we expect to expand our products into the interior regions. So we see potential. Guyana is pretty much open for business right now.”

Furness Chemicals: Market is price sensitive

Adriana Ferreira, representative, Furness Chemicals Ltd based in Sealots, told Business and Money that they were happy with the Guyana mission.

“I’ve already made contact with distributors plus some supermarkets. It helped me to learn the Guyanese market and to gain knowledge, also the size of the market, the possibilities. I believe we will be successful there.”

Furness Chemicals manufactures cleaning products such as dishwashing liquids, laundry detergent, fabric softeners and all purpose cleaners. They also have industrial cleaning products like floor polish.

She said their contacts in Guyana were already expanding and were desirous of getting samples of the company’s products.

She said they are already in regional markets like Barbados, St Lucia, St and St Kitts.

“We export to other islands of the Caribbean and we wanted to get into Guyana.”

She described Guyana as a very “price sensitive” market.

“I think that they go for smaller sizes, they prefer to buy smaller and when they get paid they buy another size. It’s very price sensitive, even more than T&T.”

Speaking about the overall Guyanese economy, she said that it is getting better although they still have a lot to do in terms of improving living standards.

“It is starting to improve and there is a lot of investment in place right now. Massy Stores is opening new supermarkets so I think they have a lot of possibilities. The next couple of years are going to be interesting.”

She remains optimistic about the Guyanese market.

“The export Mission was fantastic and helped us. We are very happy to be getting into that market,” she said.

ASA Enterprises: Great potential

Aadil Khan, representative, ASA Enterprises Ltd, told Business and Money that his company sees great potential in the Guyanese market.

“We are new to exporting and geographically it is like our neighbour as compared to Jamaica. What exporTT has done for us is that they have given us the names of all the distributors there and that opportunity.

So it’s the variety that allows us to choose whatever distributor we want to partner with.”

He also said that the Guyanese market is similar to T&T’s in many ways.

Khan also referred to Guyana as a “price sensitive” country.

“People really don’t care about price in T&T. That was only the thing I saw in Guyana that could be a hiccup but, in many other ways, they are similar to T&T. They are so price sensitive, I think they would choose somebody else for a cent. They prefer to go on price. It is all about the purchasing power.”

ASA Enterprises process dehydrated fruits, cashew nuts, natural almonds, Brazilian nuts, pumpkin seeds and other related fruit at their plant in Couva.

According to Khan, to be successful in a new market, whether it is Guyana or anywhere else, an exporter must understand the complexity of that market.

“Because of export I am able to understand and get this information. Going into exports is like choosing a marriage partner, you have to know the distributor to choose. You want to get a good partner who understands your product. We have found several candidates and we are in discussion with them. A lot of research has to be done before you make that choice.”

He sees a lot of potential in the Guyanese economy for the future.

“For a small company going to export there, Guyana is a good opportunity. It is a good testing ground for your product. Logistically, in one day’s time you can get your product from T&T to Guyana. Every day there is a shipment from T&T to Guyana and back,” he said.

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