Guyana-Brazil road on packed agenda

Guyana and Brazil are once again discussing the construction of a highway between the two South American states.

The two countries have also signed a raft of agreements for co-operation in Security, Agriculture, Energy and Communication ahead of a planned state visit by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in the New Year.

A joint press statement issued following a one-day working visit to Guyana yesterday by Ernesto Araújo, Minister of External Relations explained that “the two sides reviewed the existing programme of cooperation between Guyana and Brazil and agreed to the implementation of a number of measures aimed at expanding and strengthening collaboration at the bilateral and regional levels within the context of existing cooperation mechanisms.”

Ernesto Araújo

The statement proclaims that following frank exchanges the 13-member Brazilian delegation and its Guyanese counterpart agreed on modalities for advancing the cooperation agenda in  the areas of infrastructure, trade and investment, health, agriculture, energy, tourism and security.

Specifically decisions were taken to resume discussions on the completion of the Guyana-Brazil Road Project as well as of the implementation of the “Inter-national Road Transport Agreement”.

This project is more than three decades old.

It was first conceived by President Forbes Burnham and his counterpart President João Figueiredo. In October 1982 the two signed the initial agreement for the construction of the highway − which was intended eventually to link Boa Vista and Georgetown. At this point a raft of agreements for cooperation in agriculture, energy development, education, health, scientific research and other things was also inked.

President Desmond Hoyte, seven years later in October 1989, visited Brazil and, with his counterpart President José Sarney, signed the agreement for the highway construction to start with Brazilian financing. The next month, Guyana’s Ministry of Commu-nications and Works entered an agreement with the Brazilian construction firm Paranapanema, to construct the highway.

More than a decade later then President Bharrat Jagdeo visited Brazil in July 2003, accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Rudy Insanally, Minister of Transport and Hydraulics Anthony Xavier, Minister of Education Henry Jeffrey, Minister of Tourism Manzoor Nadir and Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Office for Investment Geoffrey da Silva.

At this time another series of agreements were signed including for a deep harbour project and the Guyana-Brazil highway project.

Yesterday, the delegations also agreed to advance discussions on energy cooperation, including environmental aspects, through the exchange of technical missions and information and to pursue greater collaboration between the health officials as both states continue to grapple with the ill effects of COVID-19.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the “Technical Feasibility Studies for the Installation of (an) Optical Network from Boa Vista, Brazil to Georgetown, Guyana” was also signed during the visit. It recognizes the importance of establishing digital connectivity infrastructure between the two countries.

Additionally there is a new commitment to collaboration in the area of security and the fight against illicit activities and organized crime through the exchange of information and expertise. To this end, the two sides signed the “International Technical Cooperation Agreement between the Customs Anti Narcotic Unit of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Federal Police of the Federative Republic of Brazil”

In the agriculture sector there is to be increased collaboration in areas such as technical cooperation in   pest and disease management, as exemplified by the ongoing joint Carambola Fruit Fly (CFF) monitoring activities.

Further commitments have been made to convene in Georgetown in January 2021 a meeting of the Guyana/Brazil Group on Consular Cooperation; to convene a Technical Committee Meeting, under the aegis of the Partial Scope Agreement, with a view to expand trade and investment; and to continue political coordination and dialogue on regional issues, with an emphasis on the promotion of democracy and shared prosperity.

Araújo, who was accompanied by senior officials of the Ministry of External Relations and the Federal Police of Brazil met with President Irfaan Ali, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo,  the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation as well as the Attorney General and the Ministers of Agriculture, Public Works, and Home Affairs.


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