Statement delivered by Permanent Representative of Guyana to the United Nations, on behalf of the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana, at 34th Session of the OIC/COMCEC, Istanbul, Turkey, 28 November 2018
Ladies and gentlemen.
I have the honor to speak on behalf of His Excellency Mr. Carl Greenidge, Vice-President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana who, due to pressing affairs of State, is unable to join you for this 34th session of COMCEC.
I wish to thank our hosts, the Government and people of Turkey, for their generous hospitality and warm welcome to this beautiful city of Istanbul, a city steeped in history and brimming with vitality.
Even though Guyana is one of only two OIC members in the Americas, we feel very much a part of the Ummah and we therefore welcome the efforts being made to accelerate sustainable socio-economic development throughout the OIC membership.
My country Guyana is relatively underdeveloped, but it is rich in natural resources and brimming with potential. Our territory covers 83,000 square miles - more than the size of England, Belgium and the Netherlands combined. Nearly 80 per cent is forested with tree species that include valuable tropical hardwoods. We are significant producers of gold, diamonds, bauxite and soon manganese, and surveys are being conducted to map deposits of other minerals, including uranium and rare metals.
We are blessed with vast amounts of agricultural land irrigated by an extensive network of rivers and freshwater creeks. Indeed the name Guyana means "Land of Many Waters".
A few years ago, one of the largest deposits of oil in recent times was discovered offshore within the territorial waters of Guyana. With only a portion of one block explored so far, already more than 4 billion barrels of proven reserves of high quality light crude have been confirmed. Production is due to start in less than 18 months and is estimated to reach 750,000 bpd by 2025.
But for Guyana to realize this enormous potential, we need the cooperation of other OIC members to partner with us in mutually beneficial projects and programs. For example, vast tracts of agricultural land that require capital for beneficial exploitation are available for leasing to member States that have the capital but lack food security. We would also welcome the strengthening of links between higher education institutions in our respective countries, including scholarships and programs for technical and vocational training. The oil and gas sector is new to Guyana and technical and vocational training to build national capacity in that sector would be particularly welcome.
Mr. Chairman, the Dhaka Declaration underlines the importance of intra-OIC economic cooperation and the sharing of experiences among OIC Member. Intra-OIC cooperation is an integral part of South-South cooperation, which is sorely needed at a time when multilateralism is under attack and official development assistance (ODA) has been reduced to a trickle. The eradication of poverty and improving the well-being of our people are goals that are shared across the OIC membership and these goals can be achieved through solidarity and greater cooperation within our membership.
On the subject of trade facilitation, Mr Chairman, there can be no trade, certainly no trade in goods, without the necessary transport infrastructure - in the case of Guyana, shipping routes and airline connectivity. So let me conclude by urging our brothers in other latitudes to remember that there is an outpost of the OIC in South America. We look forward to the day when Guyana can be a bridge to West Africa and a gateway to Latin America for the OIC membership. Guyana is the Headquarters of the 14-Member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and so a diplomatic mission or trade center opened in Georgetown can serve the entire CARICOM region.
Guyana is on the cusp of an exciting future. Our economic prospects are bright. But we need partners for mutually beneficial cooperation. We would like nothing more than for our brothers and sisters in the OIC membership to be our partners in building the trade infrastructure so that we can enter that future together.
I thank you.