President Ali wants Schengen visas to be issued in Guyana

– as process to establish EU-Guyana Chamber of Commerce begins

President Dr. Irfaan Ali is calling on the European Union (EU) to implement systems to issue Schengen visas here.

President Ali said that Guyana is positioned strategically in the modern world with great investors’ confidence and it cannot be business as usual. He called for the process to be fast-tracked as he stressed the importance of people-to-people contact.

President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali

“In the next 48 hours let us double down on this, make the appropriate noise, and get this done. I think this is a very low-hanging fruit…Ease of travel is critical and facilitating travel is critical. One of the important things of the establishment of these chambers is the people to people contact. Sometimes we rely on technology so much that we fail to realize the importance of people to people contact,” President Ali said.

A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area, per stays up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes. It is the most common visa for Europe and enables its holder to enter, freely travel within, and leave the Schengen zone from any of the Schengen member countries. There are no border controls within the Schengen Zone.

President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, EU Ambassador to Guyana, Fernando Ponz Canto and Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond sharing a light moment

The Head of State made the call as the European Union and Guyana began the process for the establishment of a Chamber of Commerce in the country.

At present, Guyanese are required to travel to a European embassy in Suriname or Trinidad to obtain Schengen visas to travel to any of the EU member states.

“I think that the EU must understand that it is in their strategic interest to have that facility here in Guyana within the next three months and we have to find where we can get it done within the next three months. Which embassy is in a position get it done in the next three months, what you want us to do to get it done in the next three months and get it done,” President Ali stated.

Nevertheless, the President urged that the chamber of commerce be used to change the scale of business in Guyana and move away from just conducting transactions.

Outgoing EU Ambassador to Guyana, Fernando Ponz Canto

He said the economic partnership agreement with the EU has tremendous advantages for not only Guyana but the CARICOM region by tapping into the EU market.

“This is a challenge but it is not a challenge that cannot be overcome or it’s not a challenge we cannot derive the benefit from. It requires hard work, it requires commitment, it requires us understanding that we have to change our way of thinking, change our method,” the president stated.

Food security, energy security, climate change, and eco-tourism are some of the areas President Ali outlined that investors can tap into.

Meanwhile, outgoing EU Ambassador to Guyana, Fernando Ponz Canto said the chamber of commerce comes as EU and Guyana celebrate 50 years of cooperation. The Ambassador said the chamber will advocate for and promote small and medium-scale businesses.

“The establishment of this chamber of commerce which starts today is probably one of best ways to bring more of Guyana to Europe and more Europe to Guyana. This is much more than a slogan, this is something that will bring concrete benefit to your citizens and to our citizens and we are determined to work very hard for that,” he stated.

Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond and Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Office for Investment Dr Peter Ramsaroop were present at the event.

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