National News

Business To Drive Recovery In The Caribbean

By Hallam Hope

Caribbean ExportBRIDGETOWN, Barbados – As Caribbean economies continue to be buttressed by a weak world economy an international two-day conference has been arranged in Barbados to provide a road map for future economic growth.

A salient consideration and focus of the November 11-12 Caribbean Exporters’ Colloquium 2014, organised by The Caribbean Export Development Agency, funded by the European Union as part of the 10th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme, at the Hilton Barbados is the role of the private sector.

Regional business executives will be joined by Caribbean and International experts to examine the contribution and performance of regional exports.

Trade expansion is widely recognised as essential to providing a sustainable and resilient path for regional development to occur, a statement from Caribbean Export noted.

The growth trends of regional exports, in both goods and services will be analysed under the conference theme: “Building Economic Resilience in the Caribbean.”

The conference will take a detailed look at the performance of key sectors, including tourism, agro-processing and the creative goods and services. To facilitate an understanding of the performance of the exports sector the opening session chaired by His Excellency Ambassador Mikael Barfod, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean will seek to identify those exports that have proven to be success stories for the Caribbean as well as those that have the highest potential for growth.

One of eight companion panel discussions on trade performance is the global competitiveness of the private sector and importantly the challenges and hurdles it faces in being competitive. Various studies have concluded that some of these challenges are high operating costs, high transportation costs and inadequacies in enabling structures and processes.

The colloquium aims to come up with specific recommendations in this area by taking a detailed look at hurdles and challenges that curb the private sector ability to be competitive.

This assessment is particularly relevant at a time when regional Governments are pressing the private sector to do more to facilitate economic recovery from a six-year-old recession that has hit economies hard.

At the same time some Governments have been supportive in the form of tax incentives and programmes to improve public sector efficiency and address the concerns which would be identified by the experts presenting at the colloquium. Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, Damion Crawford will be joined in the session on private sector hurdles by business leaders Dereck Foster, Executive Chairman, Automotive Art group of companies in Barbados and Dr Desmond Ali, Executive Director of Millennium3 Consultants, Guyana.

While placing a focus on the regional private sector’s role, challenges and identifying solutions attention will also be paid to branding and intellectual property rights, the highly debatable question of whether the private sector should seek to innovate or imitate, transportation and shipping challenges and access to finance which firms have perpetually lamented as a critical hurdle to business growth. On this subject a separate panel will identify non-traditional platforms for funding.

A current area of much Government attention which the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has underscored as hampering regional competitiveness is the energy sector, where the Caribbean has some of the highest electricity rates globally. The conference will discuss the alternative energy sector and the regional transition to sustainable and energy efficient economies.

This event is also supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

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