…services a major element of Guyana’s GDP — Carl GreenidgeThe American Chamber of Commerce was officially launched in Guyana on Monday evening at the Marriot Hotel. The event was attended by a large section of the local private sector and representatives from the United States business community.Speaking at the event, President of AmCham Guyana, Zulfikar Ally, said the Chamber plans to place emphasis on small businesses to ensure that they, too, have opportunities to grow.“We see this Chamber as a Chamber that will help to facilitate investment into Guyana. There are 116 chambers all around the world and… our job will be to help to facilitate and guide [businesses],” he said.Ally added that AmCham Guyana will be committed to working with bothPresident of AmCham Guyana, Zulfikar Ally, addressing a gathering at the Marriott Hotel on Monday during the Chamber’s official launchbusinesses and Government to ensure that the objective of promoting growth is achieved. The chamber is not only for American businesses, it is for any business; and not only for corporations, but even to the smallest business,” he said.He said the Chamber hopes to augment and expand existing US/Guyana trade and investment relations, but will also work to improve the investment climate and strengthen the private sector.While noting that there are some challenges, he noted that businesses can only operate in a climate where there is ease and efficiency, and in a place where it is safe to conduct business as well.Also addressing the gathering was Vice President of the Americas Department of the International Affairs Division, United States Chamber of Commerce, Anne McKinney, who noted that the Chamber will become a catalyst for investment.She stressed the benefits that could derive from the exchange of ideas and cooperation between the US Chamber and that of the local branch, and gave her commitment to working closely with Guyana.At the cocktail reception to mark the official launch of the Chamber, Business Minister Dominic Gaskin told the gathering that Government has been working toA section of the gathering at the launching of the American Chamber of Commerce on Mondaymodernise the business sector.He said that under the current administration, focus is being placed on ensuring that more modern technology is used to bring ease to the way business and money transactions are done in Guyana.“We are also committed to transparency, and we will ensure that accurate, up-to-date and relevant information is shared to the public and businesses. This is a work in progress,” he added.Gaskin said the prospect of oil production has created a buzz in Guyana and further afield, and this is extremely positive for the country, as it will only lead to greater investment opportunities.Acting Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge, a former Finance Minister, also delivered remarks at the opening. He underscored the importance of trade relations between Guyana and the rest of the world, and said services are a major element of Guyana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, he noted that at a time when services constitute one of the most dynamic and buoyant elements in international trade across the globe, Guyana is one of those countries wherein the export of services is negligible. “The future of export success comes from value enhancements of many of the jurisdictions… Increasingly, it is the service element that enhances the prices, enables them to find niche markets, enables the exporters to keep up with a market where the characteristics of the times (digital and communication) revolutions have changed,” he stated.Meanwhile, earlier in the day, President David Granger met with the new Chamber and gave his Government’s commitment to do whatever is possible to promote and stabilise trade and investment in the country.As such, he said Guyana is open for business in all sectors, including agriculture, mining and eco-tourism; and would welcome groups and individuals who would like to come here.His statement was made during a meeting held on Monday with the executive members of AmCham at State House.“I am seeing that we can bring more people to the fold. There is so much we can do. There is absolutely nothing in terms of agricultural products that we cannot supply to the Caribbean hospitality sector, but we need investment capital, and we need to build a stronger manufacturing sector,” he said.The Head of State noted, too, that as the Chamber opens its operations here, it is his hope that small businesses would not be left out, but would rather be given the necessary resources to grow and develop.He said, “We will do whatever we can do to promote and stabilise trade and investment, because what’s good for Guyana is good Guyanese. This can only work to the benefit of both sides.”The President underscored that small businesses are welcome, and if they can be given some training, like how to write a proposal or business plan, then that alone will be a stepping stone.AmCham Guyana is a private sector association of US enterprises and individuals doing business in Guyana, as well as firms and business executives in Guyana who operate in the United States.AmCham said its purpose is to “promote America–Guyana bilateral trade opportunities and activities; to improve market access for America-Guyana goods and services; to provide an economic, social, and policy platform for its members; to encourage networking and build business connections, among others.The current board is comprised of a dynamic mix of both local, regional, and U.S directors who are eager to dedicate their service, knowledge, and expertise to ensuring a productive start for the chamber.Members of the Board include: Zulfikar Ally, Queens Atlantic; Clairmont Cummings, Corum Group; Liz Wyatt, Sol Guyana; Dave Kissoon, London House Chambers; Justin Nedd, GTT; Rod Henson, ExxonMobil; Davie Sukdeo, Guyana Marriott; George Kalantzakis, HESS Corporation; Rafael Nabi, Nabi Construction Inc; Ms Saskia Wigingaarde, RED Entertainment; Yolander Persaud, Massy Group Guyana; Jorge Medina, MACORP, Richard Sammy, Republic Bank; Marisca Jordan, RAMPS Logistics; Andrew Mendonza, Baker Hughes and Fitzroy McLeod, NAMILCO.Members of the Executive include: Zulfikar Ally as Chairman; Clairmont Cummings as First Vice Chair; Justin Nedd as Second Vice Chair; Liz Wyatt as Third Vice Chair; Fitzroy McLeod as Treasurer; Devindra Kissoon as General Counsel; and Ms Yolander Persaud as Company Secretary.