Guyana's largest import categories in 1989 were capital goods
(mostly machinery) and fuel, followed by other intermediate and
consumer goods. The United States supplied about 30 percent of
Guyana's merchandise imports, including most machinery and
industrial inputs. A surge in imports of capital goods in the late
1980s may have reflected the rebuilding of the bauxite and sugar
industries. In 1990 imports amounted to US$250 million.
For most of the 1980s, the largest import category by far was
fuel and lubricants; Guyana made special arrangements with its oilrich neighbors to obtain fuel. Trinidad and Tobago supplied most of
Guyana's oil until the mid-1980s, when Guyana fell far behind on
its payments. In 1985 the two nations entered into a barter
arrangement under which Guyana received oil in exchange for rice.
But that agreement broke down within the year, and trade between
Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana dropped off. Guyana also had a
barter arrangement with Venezuela starting in 1986. Guyana shipped
almost one-third of its bauxite (540,000 tons) to Venezuela in 1987
in exchange for fuel. This barter arrangement was essential for
Guyana, which had almost no access to credit after the country
slipped into arrears on debt to major creditors. But bartering had
its drawbacks. In 1989, for example, Guyana suffered recurring fuel
shortages when it failed to deliver bauxite shipments to Venezuela.
Data as of January 1992