Guyana's economy depends on the export of commodities such as gold, diamonds, sugar, rice, bauxite, fish and other non-traditional agricultural products. Despite consistently positive growth trends in recent years, the economy is now expected to slow down, given the recent economic crisis, falling commodity prices and sugar production levels. In addition, weak infrastructure and logistical bottlenecks are a major impediment to attracting foreign investment. Only 500 km of Guyana's 2,600 km road network are paved. Since 1997 social sector spending has increased, in particular for education, health, housing and water. Nonetheless, the country remains extremely poor, only ranking 110 (out of 179 countries) in the 2007-2008 Human Development Index. Environmental management is one of Guyana's key priorities. Climate change is already having a significant impact on the country and projected sea-level rise will affect costal areas where most of the economic activity is taking place.
The Country Strategy Paper for Guyana (2008-2013) presents the strategic framework for the co-operation between the European Commission (EC) and Guyana under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF). EC assistance under the 10th EDF will concentrate on macro-economic support as well as continued support to the Guyana sea defences and coastal management. A specific target of the 10th EDF programme will be capacity building within the sea defence administration to prepare for the final hand-over of responsibility for the maintenance of this crucial infrastructure from the EC to the national authorities.
The EC's total allocation (2008-2013) foreseen for Guyana to address these priorities amounts to €55.4 million.
In addition, Guyana is a beneficiary of the EU/ACP sugar protocol. The 2008 the allocation for Guyana under the sugar budget line amounted to almost €24.4 million.
EC cooperation has consistently complemented Guyana's development agenda. The Country Strategy Paper for Guyana (2002-2007) under 9th EDF focussed on the rehabilitation and maintenance of sea defences as well as macro-economic support. Assistance was also granted to transport sector planning and support to economic actors via a micro-project programme.
The sea defence project under the 9th EDF added a contribution of €20 million to an already ongoing programme. The sea wall is critical to safeguarding the investments in infrastructure and improved agricultural production in Guyana's coastal belt where 90% of the population live. It particularly serves to protect the poor who often live close to the sea wall and whose livelihoods depend on agriculture (mainly rice and sugar). The severe flood in January 2005 and the resulting loss of life and economic capacity stressed the continued importance of sea defences for Guyana's sustainable development.
For further details on projects and programmes in Guyana funded from the European Development Fund and the general budget of the EU, please visit the project's section of the website of the Delegation of the European Union to Guyana.
Other sources of information
The Directorate-General for Development is responsible for drawing up the cooperation strategy with Guyana.
More information on EU relations with Guyana is available on the pages of the Delegation of the European Union to Guyana.
Information on trade relations in the ACP region can be found on the website of the Directorate-General for Trade.