GEORGETOWN, GUYANA — The South Louisiana Economic Council (SLEC) recently returned from a trade mission in Guyana with the Louisiana District Export Council. Located in the northeastern corner of South America, Guyana has become an energy production focus since 2015 with the first of a raft of rich deepwater oil field discoveries in their offshore Stabroek Block.
From November 14-17, the Louisiana District Export Council (LDEC), in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown and U.S. Commercial Service Louisiana District Export Council (LDEC) brought to Guyana the largest and most diverse trade delegation from the U.S. to date. The thirty delegates represented Louisiana and other U.S. companies as well as representatives from Louisiana Economic Development, the Southern Regional Minority Supplier Development Council, the South Louisiana Economic Council, the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., and the International Trade Administration’s Louisiana office.
The delegation was led by LDEC member Mr. Marc Hebert of Jones Walker, LLP. Joining him was LDEC Executive Secretary, Ms. Erin Butler, who also serves as Director of the International Trade Administration’s Louisiana office. SLEC consultants Deanna Lafont, Business Development and Cody Blanchard, Communications and Special Projects were both in attendance.
Vic Lafont, SLEC President & CEO stated, “SLEC’s International services are directed primarily at two purposes — New Business Recruitment and Business Expansion. In our New Business Recruitment initiatives, we not only recruit in-state companies, but include International industries that fit our Bayou Region profile. When we assist our existing industries through our Business Expansion program, we provide them further growth opportunities in both national and international markets. With the sizable discovery of oil off the Guyana coast and Bayou Region companies working in the area, the opportunity to sponsor a trade mission to Guyana was clearly justified. While there, our discovery turned out to be as significant as it was for that country’s discovery of oil. Revealed was not only a growing offshore oil and gas industry, but a country made up of coastal communities with thriving sugar cane and seafood industries — similar to the Bayou Region 50 years prior. There’s now an opportunity for Bayou Region businesses to support their oil and gas industry in addition to enhanced medical care, education, and community services to advance both their industrial and community profiles.”
While in Guyana, SLEC hosted a Business Linkages Breakfast in conjunction with Edison Chouest Offshore’s G- Boats and BILCO Tools to explore the history, culture, and industry successes of Louisiana’s Bayou Region and how they relate to Guyana. In attendance were over 80 Guyanese companies primarily of the Guyanese American Chamber of Commerce, Inc. and Georgetown Chamber of Commerce.
“G-Boats and G-Port (both ECO affiliated companies based in Guyana) were pleased to participate in this monumental effort on the part of SLEC & LDEC which was over a year in the making. SLEC did a great job of showing the similarities of the cultures of South Louisiana and Guyana which lends itself to the potential of good partnerships for companies from the bayou country and Guyana,” said Daniel Lafont, Business Development Director, G-Boats & C-Logistics, Edison Chouest Offshore Companies.
The delegation had a private roundtable with Guyana’s President, Irfaan Ali; they were also welcomed to the home of U.S. Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch for a welcome reception.
They conducted three days of site visits, briefings, and meetings with key private sector contacts and government officials to highlight Guyana’s business environment, learn about the Government of Guyana’s efforts to promote investment and economic diversification, explore market entry strategies, and foster partnerships – all toward the goal of developing closer trade and investment ties between Guyana and the U.S.
“This mission provided the opportunity for SLEC to establish important relationships with Guyanese organizations. South Louisiana companies have the expertise needed to build the economic infrastructure in Guyana. We look forward to continuing to build these important relationships and facilitate discussions with our Bayou Region businesses and Guyanese officials,” said Deanna Lafont, SLEC Business Development Consultant.
SLEC has continued its conversations with public and private sector leaders from Guyana since returning to the Bayou Region. An update is anticipated in Q1 of 2023 that will involve the ability for Bayou Region business to gain additional access to expansion opportunities.
The delegation was closely supported by the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown as well as the International Trade Administration’s Louisiana Office, U.S. Commercial Service New Orleans. Part of the worldwide network of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, U.S. Commercial Service New Orleans helps Louisiana companies sell into international markets.