Guyana is a country of vast, often untapped, natural resources. Endowed with extensive savannahs, productive land and forests, rich mineral deposits of gold, bauxite and diamonds, abundant water resources and Atlantic coastline, the country presents dynamic business opportunities across multiple sectors of the economy. While recognized globally as a sugar and rice producer, much of its agricultural potential is yet to be realized, especially with regard to fresh and processed fruits and vegetables. Its forestry potential is just beginning to be realized, particularly in the realm of value-added wood products. Its extensive network of rivers and Atlantic coastline provide ideal conditions for both seafood and aquaculture. Finally, its pristine environment, unspoiled rainforest and exotic fauna and natural attractions, which include the famous Kaieteur Falls, the highest single drop waterfalls in the world, makes Guyana a highly attractive location for eco- and adventure tourism.
Guyana’s unique geographic positioning and its socio-political heritage put it at the gateway of South America and the Caribbean. On one hand, its Caribbean and English-speaking heritage enables Guyana to be part of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), while on the other, it is a South American country, neighboring two of the most important economies on the continent – Brazil and Venezuela. As a result of its geographic proximity, Guyana has easy access to 277 million consumers, and a US$130+ billion export market with an overall purchasing power of over US$2 trillion.
Duty Free Market Access
Through a combination of regional, bilateral and preferential agreements, about 75 percent of Guyana’s exports enter destination markets duty free, with many others receiving duty-reduced access. This is achieved through Guyana’s membership of CARICOM, which provides duty-free access to the 15-nation CARICOM market, CARICOM agreements with the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba and Venezuela, partial scope agreements with Brazil and Venezuela, and bilateral agreements with Argentina, China and Turkey. Guyana also benefits from preferential duty-free or reduced-duty access to major developed country markets through CARIBCAN (Canada), the U.S. Caribbean Trade Partnership and the European Union’s (EU) ACP Contonou Agreement.
Guyana is the only English-speaking nation in South America. Investors contemplating the installation and operation of service enterprises will find this a distinct advantage. This is especially true for those involved in the growing IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) markets in North America, as well as businesses conducting operations to support the activities of large corporations worldwide, and those serving English-speaking tourism markets.
Guyana has one of the most competitive wage rates when compared to Latin America and the Caribbean. The labor force is well educated, with literacy estimated at close to 99 percent, and is regarded as trainable and hard working.
Openness to Investment
Both public and private sector leaders have declared Guyana ‘open for business’. Foreign investors receive the same treatment as domestic investors. Guyana provides an array of across-the-board investment incentives, including a flat business tax rate, tax holidays, waivers of customs duties, export tax allowances, and unrestricted repatriation of profits, as well as additional incentives in priority export sectors. Furthermore, Guyana’s investment promotion agency, GO-Invest, provides effective support to investors before, during and after an investment has been realized.
Conventional long form: Co-operative Republic of Guyana
Conventional short form: Guyana
Former: British Guiana
Parliamentary democracy with executive authority vested in the Head of State
Head of State and Government
President Donald Ramotar
Political Parties in Parliament
Working People’s Alliance (WPA); Guyana Action Party (GAP); People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) [Main Opposition]; People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) [Governing Party]; Rise, Organize, and Rebuild (ROAR); The United Force (TUF);
Total: 214,970 sq km
Water: 18,120 sq km
Land: 196,850 sq km
765,283 (July 2005 est.)
3 persons per sq. km.
English (Other – Amerindian dialects, Creole, Hindi, Urdu)
Christian 50%, Hindu 35%, Muslim 10%, other 5%
GMT – 4
Tropical; hot, humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; two rainy seasons (In the coastal region: May to June, mid-November to mid-January)
GDP per capita
Purchasing power parity – US$4,293 (2004 prices)
Guyanese dollar (G$)
Guyanese dollars per US dollar – 200 (August 2005)
Main cities/towns with number of inhabitants
Georgetown (capital) 170,000
New Amsterdam 20,000
Rose Hall 8,000
Anna Regina 3,000
Membership in International Organizations
Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM)
Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)
Group of 77
Group of African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) Countries
South American Community of Nations / Rio Group
Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
Organization of American States (OAS)
The World Bank
Treaty of Amazonian Cooperation
United Nations (UN)
World Trade Organization (WTO)
International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
Caribbean Single Market and Economy/CARICOM,
CARICOM-Colombia, CARICOM-Costa Rica, CARICOM-Cuba, CARICOM-Dominican Republic, CARICOM-Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, People’s Republic of China, Turkey and Venezuela.
Preferential Trade Arrangements
E.U. African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Agreement
U.S. Caribbean Trade Partnership (CTP, previously Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI))
Bilateral Investment Agreements
People’s Republic of China, Cuba, Germany and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Double Taxation Treaties
Canada, CARICOM countries, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Investing In LDCs: Risk and Return
“Why would anyone invest in a less-developed country?” a presumably hardheaded investor might ask. “Aren’t the risks too high and the profits precarious?”
This perception, though unfounded, seems widespread in some business circles. When it comes to profits, the evidence is that the rate of return on FDI in less-developed countries (LDCs) is often much higher than investment in developed countries, or even more developed emerging economies. Often the negative perception of LDCs results in an enormous untapped potential. As such, investors able to do their homework and distinguish between perception and reality may find abundant and lucrative investment opportunities. These investors can benefit from ‘first mover’ status. As opposed to locations where everyone wants to be investing, first movers can pick the most promising opportunities. If they are able to navigate the challenges that come with doing business in LDCs, investors will find their experience quite rewarding.