Guyana, as an emerging economy, presents investors with numerous profitable opportunities in diverse sectors. These opportunities for investors stem from the country’s unique geographic position at the gateway of South America and the Caribbean, combined with its natural resources, access to key export markets, an English-speaking population and affordable labour.
Guyana has immense, untapped natural resources. Endowed with extensive Savannahs, productive land and forests, rich minerals deposits of gold, bauxite and diamonds, abundant freshwater resources, and an Atlantic coastline, these are supported by stable macroeconomic policies, investment incentives, and a regulatory environment and corporate tax regime that does not discriminate against foreign investors. Needless to say, Guyana provides investors with favorable conditions to do business.
The following are key sectors in Guyana with lucrative investment opportunities:
- Energy (Petroleum and Gas; Renewable)
- Agriculture and Agro-Processing
- Mining (Bauxite; Gold and Diamond)
Guyana provides numerous opportunities for investors within the energy sector, particularly with regards to petroleum, gas and 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.
It should be noted that fiscal incentives for developers, such as tax and excise duty exemptions for renewable electricity equipment and corporation tax holidays for importers of items for wind and solar energy investments have also been developed. Also, selective renewable energy machinery and equipment have been exempted from import duty and value-added tax (VAT). Also, legislation has been amended to remove import duty and value-added tax (VAT) on compact fluorescent lamps and LED lamps to incentivize and motivate energy efficient behaviour. Several incentives have also been instituted to promote energy efficiency in the transport sector including tax exemption and tax reductions of newer vehicles with smaller engines, tax reductions for hybrid and electric vehicles, tax exemptions for the installation electric vehicle charging stations and for transport biofuels.
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 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 products: Sugar and Rice
Non-Traditional products: agro-processing exports (i.e., prepared food and molasses), prepared foods market (i.e., jams and jellies, coconut milk, spices, pasta, etc.)
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 its 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.
Guyana’s distinct tourism product is largely nature based with a natural beauty that is unsurpassable. More than 70% of the country is covered with rainforest, ranging from dry evergreen and seasonal forests to lowland evergreen rain forests. Guyana has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world and its eco-tourism potential remains incomparable. Even though Guyana remains largely unknown as a tourist destination on a global scale, the tourism market in Guyana has been gaining more exposure, at the same time strengthening the significance of eco-tourism. Guyana has prioritized eco-tourism as a major component of its economy in recent years. The country is progressively looking at eco-tourism as an economically viable way of preserving and conserving the country’s natural environment. The advancement of this form of tourism in Guyana supports socio-economic growth and functions as a sustainable and equitable use of the residing tropical forest ecosystems.
More so, Guyana’s tourism industry has been experiencing a period of dynamic investment and growth. Visitor arrivals have grown from 116,596 in 2012 to 235, 000 in 2016. For the first quarter in 2017, the country had already experienced a six percent increase compared with the same period in the previous year. 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 including Choices Hotel chain and the Marriott just to name a few. With an average annual growth rate of about eight percent, which would mean about half a million visitors by 2025, Guyana has begun expanding its international airport, Cheddi Jagan International, and has improved the status of its domestic airport (Eugene F. Correira International Airport at Ogle). 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 stand to benefit from ‘first mover’ status and the choice of diverse investment opportunities.
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.
There is a particular interest in expanding Guyana’s garments and apparel sector and to take advantage of preferential access to foreign apparel markets under preferential trade agreements with the U.S., E.U., Canada, CARICOM and other bilateral trading partners.
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).