Studi Economici
Guyana

Guyana

Population 0.8 million
GDP 9,778 $US
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Country risk assessment
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

  2020 2021 2022 (e) 2023 (p)
GDP growth (%) 43.5 23.9 57.8 25.2
Inflation (yearly average, %) 0.7 3.3 7.6 7.6
Budget balance (% GDP) -7.9 -7.2 -0.7 -0.5
Current account balance (% GDP) -14.5 -25.5 43.8 30.8
Public debt (% GDP) 51.1 42.9 22.8 20.9

(e): Estimate (f): Forecast

STRENGTHS

  • Attractive prospects for investors in mining, hydroelectric power and agriculture
  • Abundant offshore oil and gas reserves, being developed since 2020
  • Member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM)

WEAKNESSES

  • Dependence on natural resources (gold, bauxite, sugar, rice, wood and especially oil since 2020)
  • Inadequate transport, electricity, education and health infrastructure
  • Low-skilled local labour force and massive emigration of skilled workers
  • Sensitivity to climatic events (region severely affected by hurricanes)
  • Dependence on international creditors
  • High crime rate linked to drug trafficking amid poverty and corruption (ranked 87/180 in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index in 2021

RISK ASSESSMENT

The oil sector boom drives uninterrupted strong growth

Business activity will continue to perform brilliantly in 2023, with growth expected to come in well above that of neighbouring countries, thanks to rising production in the oil sector. The significant oil resource discoveries in the Stabroek block (operated by the ExxonMobil, Hess and CNOOC consortium) have enabled the country to become the third-largest commercially recoverable oil reserve in Latin America and the Caribbean. With exploitation of these reserves already under way (Liza-2 in February 2022) or still to come (Payara in 2023), the number of barrels produced per day increased by 200% in 2022 and is expected to continue to rise sharply in 2023 and over the medium term. The economy will also continue to benefit from high oil prices. In addition, non-oil GDP, which had contracted by more than 7% in 2020 due to the Covid-19 crisis, experienced strong recovery, which continued in 2022 and is expected to be around 5% in 2023. The increase in non-oil GDP is driven by the robustness of the mining, construction and services sectors, notably thanks to the positive spillover effects of the oil sector and the resulting infrastructure investment needs. Inflation will remain rather elevated due to high international commodity prices (food and fuel, in particular) and to the growing social and public investment expenditure made possible by abundant oil tax revenues. However, its impact on domestic demand and the risk of second-round effects will remain limited as the authorities have already adopted measures to alleviate its impact on household purchasing power. The downside risks are the volatility of world oil prices and the possibility of a slowdown in global demand. Conversely, higher oil prices and new oil discoveries could further improve the outlook for 2023 and 2024.

 

External and public accounts strengthened by oil windfall

The current account will again show a very large surplus, mainly due to the positive trade balance, as high oil prices and strong oil production will support exports. Exports will far outstrip imports of equipment needed for oil and mining and for public investment. In addition, the trade balance will also continue to benefit from large agricultural exports (rice and sugar), as the sector has regained its momentum following major floods, and prices are high due to the international context. The trade surplus will more than compensate the deficits in services and revenues from foreign oil companies. Foreign exchange reserves are expected to increase thanks to the continued strong inflow of FDI in the oil sector and the growth of oil exports, covering 2.9 months of imports and 4.5 months of non-oil imports.

The fiscal deficit is expected to remain very low. Measures implemented to mitigate the impact of higher commodity prices on households, combined with additional investment spending to support the oil (to address infrastructure shortfalls) and non-oil economy will be offset by oil revenues, which will be transferred to the Natural Resources Fund, from which the government will withdraw an upstream share to finance its expenditures. Public debt, which has the lowest ratio in the region, will continue to fall as a result of the increase in GDP.

 

A government ideally positioned to use the oil windfall for the country's socio-economic transformation

President Irfaan Ali of the centre-left People's Progressive Party (PPP) took office in August 2020 following a political crisis. He succeeded David Granger, who led a multi-ethnic coalition, the People's National Congress or PNC, led by the APNU and its young ally, the AFC. Historical friction exists between the two main parties (PPP and APNU). While the Indo-Guyanese community largely supports the PPP, the Afro-Guyanese population favours the APNU. Mr. Ali's party has 33 seats in Parliament, giving it a majority in the 65-seat National Assembly (the APNU-AFC coalition has 31 seats). Since taking office, Mr Ali's government has softened its criticism of APNU's 2016 production-sharing agreement with ExxonMobil (considered outrageously favourable to the company). In August 2022, the government reaffirmed its commitment to honour the agreement, while pledging that future contracts with other oil and gas companies will be more favourable to the country. In addition, the government of the day also aims to improve an expensive and inefficient power grid, while reducing its dependence on imported refined oil and addressing frequent blackouts. Notably, construction of a gas-fired power plant fed by a 220-kilometre pipeline with offshore fields is scheduled to begin in 2023. In addition, the Cleaner Energy Strategy, announced in October 2021, foresees the modernisation of transmission and distribution lines. As for the historic border dispute with Venezuela over the Essequibo region, it is unlikely to be resolved in the short term. Last, the country is still plagued by significant corruption, with Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index ranking it 87th in the world in 2021, a weaker result than in 2020. However, the country's participation in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) should help it manage the oil windfall soundly.

 

Last updated: April 2023

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