While the Guyanese market may not be the most widely spoken about destination for investment in Latin America and the Caribbean, the country has experienced considerable growth in recent years and offers a host of opportunities to investors considering doing business in Guyana.
Guyana is one of the smallest nations by area in South America, and with a population shy of 800,000 people is also one of the most sparsely populated. Nestled in the northeast of the continent, the country is bordered by Brazil, Suriname, and Venezuela.
Considered a Caribbean nation, Guyana is joined by Belize and Suriname as the only mainland members of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), an economic integration that also includes thirteen island nations as full members and five British Overseas Territories as associates. The headquarters for Caricom is located in Georgetown, the capital city of Guyana.
Caricom has free trade agreements (FTAs) in place with the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica, while the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) — an expansion of the 1983 Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) — provides businesses based in Guyana with preferential access to the US market.
Guyana has witnessed rapid and largely unfettered growth since the turn of the century, with gross domestic product (GDP) increasing sixfold in fifteen years to hit $5.17 billion in 2019 (all figures in USD unless otherwise stated). Gross national income (GNI) — a marker of general prosperity among the population — has seen a similarly exponential rise, reaching $6,630 that same year, according to World Bank statistics.
Guyana has also seen a significant increase in foreign direct investment (FDI), which grew tenfold between 2014 and 2019 to reach $1.695 billion. The country is a major producer of ships and shipping containers, while mined metals, cereals, and fish are also important export products. Major destinations for Guayana’s goods include Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, Ghana, Norway, and Portugal.
If you are interested in doing business in Guyana, read on to learn about five reasons for doing business in the country, as well as the benefits of hiring through a PEO in Guyana. Or go ahead and contact us now to discuss your business options.
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5 reasons for doing business in Guyana
1) Unsaturated investment markets
Having seen such exponential growth in recent years, Guyana boasts a host of unsaturated markets that offer significant investment opportunities to international investors. According to GoInvest, an official government body for promoting investment, major opportunities can be found in agriculture, energy and infrastructure, forestry, international trade, oil and gas, tourism, and mining.
The government offers benefits for those interested in doing business in Guyana and has placed particular emphasis on encouraging involvement in its agricultural sector, from investment in support services and machinery to opportunities in farming the likes of coconuts, fish, livestock, and organic or other fresh produce. Meanwhile, the country boasts an under-tapped forestry sector capable of producing large quantities of charcoal and other timber products.
2) Plentiful natural resources
Beyond agriculture and forestry, Guyana has major deposits of gold, diamonds, and bauxite — the world’s primary source of aluminum ore. According to GoInvest, the mining sector contributes 16% of Guyana’s GDP per year, but has significant room for further development.
While mining has long been important to Guyana’s economy, production has increased significantly over the past decade. According to the most recent statistics on Guyana published by the US Geological Survey, gold and precious gem production saw significant jumps between 2012 and 2016 to reach 22,168 kilos of gold and 139,000 carats of diamonds and other precious stones per year respectively.
Meanwhile, bauxite production never dropped below 1,498 tons per year, making Guayana one of the top producers in the world. According to Bill Rice, then CEO of First Bauxite LLC — one of the country’s major producers — Guyana’s bauxite is the best in the world.
3) Easy access to Latin America and the Caribbean when doing business in Guyana
Guyana’s status as a Caribbean nation located on mainland South America gives it a somewhat unique connection to both Latin America and the Caribbean. While FTAs and other trade agreements provide particularly easy access to Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, the United States, and the English-speaking Caribbean nations, strong cross-border trade between Guyana and its direct neighbors provides good access to the rest of the mainland.
In December 2020, Guyana and Brazil signed an investment cooperation and facilitation agreement, while the country has had a preferential trade agreement in place with Venezuela since 1990. Meanwhile, Suriname’s status as a Caricom member guarantees easy access to that neighboring market.
4) English is the official language ️
Doing business in Guyana is made easier for many foreigners due to it being the only country in South America where English is the official language, eliminating one of the biggest obstacles foreign investors encounter in Latin America.
On top of English being the official language, Guyanese Creole (which mixes English, African and Amerindian syntax) is widely spoken, while a significant minority speak Guyanese Hindustani — a dialect of the Hindustani language most commonly spoken in Northern India and Pakistan, which stems from large scale past migration from the subcontinent.
5) Low operating costs
Guayan’s significant economic growth over recent years has seen the minimum wage rise. However, it remains highly competitive, with the minimum wage based on a 40-hour week currently set at 70,000 Guyanese dollars per month, (approximately $335 as of April 2021).
Meanwhile, despite having a slightly higher tax to GDP ratio than average for Latin America, the country maintains rates on personal income tax, corporate income tax, and social security contributions that are significantly lower than the regional average, making doing business in Guyana particularly attractive.
Hiring via a PEO in Guyana
If you are interested in doing business in Guyana but only planning a limited-scale market entry, or just want to get to know the market before making a deeper commitment, one option available to you is to hire through a professional employer organization (PEO).
Because a PEO in Guyana can hire staff on your behalf, meaning that you can get a local workforce without having to set up a local entity. That means you can get to work in Guyana in only the time it takes to find your ideal workers, and exit the market in the time it takes for them to serve their statutory notice periods.
While the PEO firm will be able to help recruit and then manage the payroll of those staff, you will retain full control over their schedule and tasks. You will have to pay the outsourcing company a fee for each employee, however that cost will often pale in comparison to establishing an entity and maintaining your own back-office staff to fulfill those functions.
Biz Latin Hub can assist you with doing business in Guyana
At Biz Latin Hub, our multilingual team of company formation specialists is ready to help you when doing business in Guyana. With our expertise in the likes of commercial representation, legal and accounting support, or hiring and PEO services, we can guarantee the provision of all of the back-office support you may need in order to help you achieve your business goals. We operate in 16 countries around Latin America and the Caribbean, and have trusted partners in many others.
Reach out to us now to discuss your expansion options.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can I open a company in Guyana?
Yes, foreigners can open companies and invest in Guyana. Businesses must file articles of incorporation and statutory declarations and designate a director and secretary for the company. This arduous process is simplified by Biz Latin Hub’s company formation services.