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January 2012

Suriname, time to move forward

With realistic plans to increase GDP by 10% each year, Suriname is the little country with giant potential
Desire Delano Bouterse, President of Suriname
Suriname has come a long way in the past two decades. Inflation has been controlled, falling from more than 100% in 2000 to 6.9% in 2010, and the economy has been experiencing steady growth that has remained buoyant during the recent global economic crisis. World Bank data shows GDP in 1990 of US$399 million rising to US$763 million in 2001. Since then, it shot up year on year to reach US$4.7 billion in 2010.

President Desire Delano Bouterse was elected as chief of state and head of government in the general elections of 2010, winning an overwhelming majority of 70.6% of the votes. The new government has set up ambitious plans for the future and is committed to producing tangible results for the people of Suriname.

“We have before us an opportunity to bind ourselves even closer together.
For, surely, we stand a better chance to confront challenges as a group united, than each swimming alone against the tide.” 

Desire Delano Bouterse, President of Suriname

“I envision a lean and efficient government sector – the kind that would complement the business sector so that it can develop further and create more jobs,” says Robert Ameerali, Vice-President of Suriname. “We should create a self-sustaining business sector that does not depend too much on the government. We want to create the kind of economy that brings rewards to those who are hardworking and industrious. Here, people do more than simply survive. They have opportunities to better themselves and acquire more wealth.”

Comprising a mix of public and private entities, the Suriname Business Forum (SBF) is an arena for dialogue to spur entrepreneurship in Suriname and strengthen the private sector. Its National Strategic Plan of Action 2011-2015 aims to increase GDP and employment annually by 10% and 20% respectively, as well as raise exports by 25% per year. It also aims to boost the diversity and number of Surinamese businesses, as well as bring in more foreign involvement.

Suriname has competitive advantages that make it an attractive destination for foreign direct investment. It is looking for sustainable relationships with partners that can positively influence the country’s development in terms of infrastructure, technology transfer, and know-how exchange. Its geo-strategic location lends itself ideally to becoming a connecting hub between South America, the Caribbean, Europe, and the U.S. Ranked by the World Bank as one of the world’s richest nations with regard to natural resources, sustainable opportunities abound in the oil, gold, bauxite, building minerals, diamonds, forestry, and water industries. The SBF has also highlighted agriculture, forestry, tourism and culture sectors as open for business.

Former president of the SBF Sieglien Burleson says, “The door is open. There is the sense that now is the time to do business in Suriname. People are talking more businesslike, and the government is talking more in the direction of supporting development. You can really sense that you can be part of your own and others’ success here. This is a country is where you can create; there are a lot of opportunities.”

Carlos Rodríguez-Villa and Alla Ilushka
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