Lula to attend regional summits in Guyana, Caribbean

He is a guest of Caricom and will speak at the opening of Celac

Published on 26/02/2024 - 11:30 By Pedro Rafael Vilela - Agência Brasil - Brasília

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will arrive on Wednesday (Feb. 28) in Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, to participate as a special guest in the closing ceremony of the 46th Summit of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (Caricom).

Established in 1973, Caricom is one of the oldest regional integration organizations globally. Comprising 15 countries, the organization represents a population of around 19 million people, spanning a territorial area equivalent to the size of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

"In times when we require support, Caricom is an especially significant group due to its coordinated actions in international organizations, unified voting on candidacies and resolutions, and its representation of 7 percent of the seats in the UN [United Nations] and 40 percent in the OAS [Organization of American States]," stated Ambassador Gisela Padovan, Latin America Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in an interview last Friday (23). Brazilian government data reveal that Brazil's trade with Caricom has surged from $1 billion to $2.6 billion over the past two years, indicating potential for further expansion.

In his speech, Lula is expected to address common issues on Brazil’s agenda. The country is currently chairing the G20—a group comprising 19 of the world's wealthiest countries, along with the European Union and the African Union—in conjunction with the Caribbean countries.

"There are thematic coincidences. The issue of food security, for instance, is very important for the Caribbean, which imports most of the food it consumes—around 80 percent. There's also the issue of climate change. It's a region that is very susceptible to the effects of the climate. It's an opportune moment to discuss these topics and President Lula has been invited to address them," explained Minister Elio Cardoso, director of the Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

In addition to participating in the regional meeting, Lula is scheduled to meet with his host, Guyana's President Irfaan Ali, as part of a state visit aimed at consolidating a trade relationship that has significantly expanded in recent years, following the discovery of large oil and gas deposits in the neighboring country.

Nicknamed the "South American Dubai," Guyana's economy experienced a nearly 400 percent growth between 2021 and 2023, primarily fueled by its oil sector, which saw its Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—the sum of all goods and services produced in the country—surge from $8 billion to over $40 billion. This economic boom has led to a remarkable 1,000 percent increase in bilateral trade between Brazil and Guyana over the last three years, particularly in the import of oil and oil products, which has risen from $70 million to $1.3 billion.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

From Guyana, on Thursday (29), Lula will travel to the small Caribbean island country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. There, he will participate in the opening of the 8th summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) on the following day, March 1, in Kingstown, the capital.

Despite being one of the founding countries of Celac, Brazil withdrew from the community during the previous government's tenure. Comprising 33 countries, Celac saw Brazil rejoin its ranks as one of President Lula's initial foreign policy actions at the start of his third term in office in 2023.

"This meeting takes place in a context of revitalizing Celac, which was paralyzed for a while after Brazil's departure," said Minister Daniela Benjamin, the ministry's Director of Regional Integration. "At this summit, we will have the opportunity to evaluate the progress that has been made and to determine how cooperation will be expanded from now on," she added.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that Lula is expected to hold bilateral meetings with other heads of government, including the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley.

Translation: Mário Nunes -  Edition: Graça Adjuto

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