Guyana – Country Profile

Guyana – Country Profile

General Information

Official Name Co-operative Republic of Guyana
Capital Georgetown
Land Area 214, 969 sq km
Population 767,085 (2015)
Currency 1 $CAD = 144 Guyanese Dollar (GYD)
National Holiday Republic Day February 23 (1970)
Language(s) English (Creole Dialect), Amerindian languages
Source: Economic Intelligence Unit, OANDA (Currency Conversion 25/02/2016)

Political Information

Form of State Republican Representative system, strong presidency, limited regional autonomy
Head of State David A. Granger, President; Moses Nagamootoo, Prime Minister
Elections Due: May 2020
Source: Economic Intelligence Unit

Economic Information

Guyana Canada
GDP (PPP) $8.42 billion $2,338 billion
GDP per capita $5,733 $64,051
GDP annual growth rate 4.45% 2.03%
GDP – composition by sector Agriculture: 21.8%

Industry: 25.3%

Services: 52.9%

Agriculture: 1.6%

Industry: 28.9%

Services: 70.5%

Inflation rate – average consumer prices 2.59% 1.96%
Main industries Bauxite, sugar, rice milling, timber, textiles, gold mining Transportation equipment, chemicals, processed and unprocessed minerals, food products, wood and paper products, fish products, petroleum and natural gas.
Note: 2016 data in Canadian dollars ($CAD)
Source: IMF World Economic Outlook, World Bank Data, CIA World Factbook, Bank of Canada (Currency Conversion 25/02/2016).

Political and Economic Stability

Although rich with natural resources, Guyana remains one of the lowest income countries in the Western Hemisphere. Guyana generates a large share of its economic activity from agriculture and natural resources sectors drawing on an endowment of fertile agricultural lands, bauxite, gold and extensive tropical forests. Economic growth has slowly begun to grow from an average of approximately 3.7% over the past two years to a predicted 3.8 % in 2016. It is predicted to fluctuate between 3.8-4.0% over the next 3 years. Guyana’s economic performance remains dependent on volatile commodity prices, with agriculture and gold providing the largest source of direct employment. Nonetheless, progress has been made in diversifying the country’s economy over the past two decades. In 1993, the traditional sectors of sugar, rice and bauxite accounted for 30% of Guyana’s GDP. Over the past couple years, the share of agriculture within Guyana’s GDP has decreased to approximately 22 %. Real GDP growth slowed in 2014 (3.8 percent) reflecting the softening in global commodity prices including gold and bauxite. There were, however notable improvements in the services and manufacturing sectors.

Guyana has one of the lowest deforestation rates in the world, with 90% of its forests remaining intact. Most of the country’s indigenous population lives in forested areas and uses the land as a source of livelihood. On May 16, 2015, David Granger was elected as President in elections deemed free and fair by international observers. President Granger’s administration has replaced the incumbent Donald Ramotar of the People’s Progressive Party which has governed Guyana since the early 1990’s. The country continues to face social challenges including environmental preservation, declining school attendance, and HIV. About one-third of the Guyanese population lives below the poverty line; indigenous people are disproportionately affected. Although Guyana’s literacy rate is reported to be among the highest in the Western Hemisphere, the level of functional literacy is considerably lower, which has been attributed to poor education quality, teacher training, and infrastructure.


Global Affairs Canada, recommends that Canadians exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to Guyana due to high crime rates. The Public Health Agency of Canada has also issued a Travel Health Notice for the Zika virus infection in the Americasrecommending that Canadians practice special health precautions while travelling in affected countries. Pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their health care provider to assess their risk and consider postponing travel to areas where the Zika virus is circulating in the Americas. For detailed and up-to-date information on travel security, please refer to the Global Affairs Canada Travel Report for Guyana.

Trade Information

Trade Partners & Direction 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Average Yearly Growth
Guyana to the World ($CAD Million) 927.641 1,036.266 1,044.725 1,416.410 1,295.665 10%
Guyana to United States ($CAD Million) 95.078 236.077 303.105 372.508 331.296 47%
Guyana to Canada ($CAD Million) 291 395 454 486 336 7%
Canadian Exports to Guyana ($ CAD Million) 29 37.750 26.750 18.807 26.109 2%
Note: Data in millions of Canadian dollars ($CAD)
Source: Trade Data Online (Industry Canada), Trade Map (International Trade Centre)
Excluding mineral products (HS2 Codes 26-27 and 71-80)
Source: International Trade Centre Trade Map
Excluding mineral products (HS2 Codes 26-27 and 71-80)
Source: Industry Canada Trade Data Online

Business Climate

The World Bank’s annual Doing Business report ranks economies from 1 to 189 (with 1 being the best) on their ease of doing business. In the 2015 report, Guyana ranked 137 overall and 139 for Trading Across Borders, which measures the ease with which a standardized shipment of goods can be imported or exported across its borders. The average time to ship goods out of Guyana according to the 2013 report is approximately 19 days, with a low average estimated cost of $CAD $991 per 20-foot container. To complete the export process, only 6 forms of documentation are required.

Although there are many reputable exporters in Guyana, Canadian importers should be aware that corruption could be an issue when doing business in the country. Guyana ranked 119 out of 140 in Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index where 1st place indicates least corrupt. Canadian companies are advised to exercise strict due diligence before working with a company from Vietnam to ensure that it is a bona fide and reputable entity. It is suggested that Canadian importers commission a report by a credit information provider to verify the financial strength of the partner.

Sustainability Initiatives

The United Nations Environment Programme provides an internationally recognized definition of a green economy as one that is low-carbon, resource efficient, and socially inclusive. Such an economy results in improved human well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. Due to Guyana’s high dependence on its natural resources, Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS, 2009; updated 2013) provides overarching national framework for the transformation of Guyana’s current economy to that of a “low carbon economy”. Specifically, it’s a strategic sustainable development policy initiative that aims to achieve a green economy, by encouraging a production and consumption shift in vital sectors of the economy, including forestry, agriculture, mining and energy.

The Women of Worth (WOW) is a microcredit scheme that aims to help single mothers start small businesses in Guyana. WOW was launched in June 2010 by the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry Limited (GBTI). In order to be eligible for the program, and gain access collateral-free loans in the range of $100,000 to $200,000, single mothers must be between 18 and 60 years and earn less than GYD 40,000 per month. As of 2014, 1326 women have received loans under the WOW programme, and there have been cases where recipients became second and third time borrowers to develop their small businesses. The loans attract a minimal interest of six per cent and a repayment period of 24 months.

The Guyana Marine Turtle Conservation Society (GMTCS) works to ensure the future existence and population recovery of marine turtles known to nest in Guyana, while at the same time addressing the needs of the communities. They provide community development, which seeks to identify economic alternatives for community members in order to achieve sustainable livelihoods. Recently GMTCS, in collaboration with various communities, established the Moruca Embroidery and North West Organics brands which are two economic alternative projects aimed at improving the social conditions of local user communities. The Moruca Embroidery Women’s Group consists of women, from the Santa Rosa and Waramuri communities, who produce pillowcases, bags, hats and tea towels embroidered with local flora and fauna. These women work closely with GMTCS to engaging indigenous communities to participate in alternative income projects in order to decrease sea turtle harvesting.

Trade Opportunities

In recent years, the Guyanese economy has been growing at a moderate pace fuelled primarily by its agriculture and extractive industries.  Main industries include: mining (gold, bauxite, and diamonds), agriculture (sugar, rice, livestock, fresh fruits and vegetables), forestry, fisheries, and manufacturing (beverage, foodstuff processing, and pharmaceuticals). Guyana’s main export products include gold, rice, sugar, ores, fish, wood and wood products and rum. Most of these product export volumes are reliant on beneficial market pricing, resulting in export levels to be varied from year to year.

The Canadian export market for Guyanese products in remains strong, representing approximately 22% of all Guyanese exports. This makes Canada one of the most significant export destinations after the United States (26%). In The geographic proximity of Guyana, the big Guyanese diaspora and the increasing quality and variety of its products make the country a prime source for Canadian importers across product categories.

1. Rum and Tafia

The fourth largest rum and tafia exporter to Canada is Guyana with $5,285,299 CAD in 2015. It accounts for 51% of Guyana’s exports to Canada and 8% of Guyana’s exports to the World in 2014 (Excluding mineral products (HS2 Codes 26-27 and 71-80)). Popularity of El Dorado Rum in Ontario’s LCBO’s, as well as other liquor distributors within the country have been responsible for increased exports. Popularity of the brand may lead the way for other Guyanese liquors to break into the alcoholic beverage market in Canada.

2. Undenatured Ethyl Alcohol

Commonly called drinking alcohol or simply alcohol, typically found in alcoholic beverages, undenatured ethyl alcohol – alcohol strength 80% or higher accounts for 20% of Guyana’s exports to Canada in 2014 (Excluding mineral products (HS2 Codes 26-27 and 71-80)). It is the fourth largest exporter to Canada with exports totaling $3,403,179 CAD in 2015. Exports to Canada have grown by 31% over the past four years and are predicted to continue to grow as awareness increases.

3.  Fish and Seafood

As the 7th largest exporter to Canada, Guyanese frozen fish has grown by 34% over the past four years. In 2015 alone exports totalled $1,426,661 CAD and accounted for 19% of Guyana’s exports to Canada and 8% of Guyana’s exports to the World in 2014 (Excluding mineral products (HS2 Codes 26-27 and 71-80)). Guyanese imports have several advantages over other fish and seafood imported products, including geographical advantage, ability to ship through transport channels in the United States, and improved bilateral trade ties. As Guyana is located in the Caribbean, there are various fish and crustacean products that Guyana has access to that are not available to local markets in Canada which allows Guyana to fill certain niche markets.

Emerging Sector: Non-traditional Crops

The government of Guyana anticipates that exports of non-traditional crops such as coconuts (which currently make up approximately 1% of Guyana’s exports to both Canada and the World), soya, and corn will become increasingly more important. Guyana’s Agriculture 2020 Strategy speaks to the increase of non-sugar and non-rice exports by at least 25% by 2020 (as of 2014). Between 2013 and 2014, coconut exportation grew by 122%. By diversifying potential uses of non-traditional products such as in the fashion and health (including cosmetics and medicine) sectors or in the construction of furniture and crafts. This sector is being supported by a number of agencies and initiatives in order to prepare market development plans to assess the feasibility of entering the organic and fair trade market in order to diversify into a new value chain, and to push diversification in the agricultural industry.

Contact Information

Guyana High Commission
151 Slater, Ottawa, Ontario
Tel.: 1-613-235-7249 / 1-613-235-7240

Embassy of Guyana
505 Consumer’s Road,
Willowdale, Ontario
Tel.: 1-416-494-6040

Useful Links

Canadian High Commission to Guyana
Guyana High Commission in Ottawa
Guyana Manufacturing Association GMSA
Guyana Arts and Crafts Producers Association GACPA
Guyana Marketing Corporation
Guyana Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Guyana Forestry Commission
Private Sector Commission of Guyana
Shipping Association of Guyana
Guyana – Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture IICA

Links to Cited Documents

Bank of Canada – Daily Currency Convertor
CIA World Factbook
Industry Canada – Trade Data Online
International Trade Centre – Trade Map
Transparency International – Corruption Perception Index
World Bank – Doing Business Report
World Bank – Country Profiles
World Bank – Open Data
Global Affairs Canada Travel Advisories
Economic Intelligence Unit
IMF World Economic Outlook
University of Michigan
International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
United Nations Environment Programme
Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy
Women of Worth (WOW)
Guyana Marine Turtle Conservation Society (GMTCS)
TFO Canada Supplier Database