Bridgetown, Barbados – The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) hosted a Business Forum on June 25th, 2014 for private sector firms as well as other key stakeholders from CARIFORUM, the French Caribbean Outermost regions (FCORs) and EU Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) in the Caribbean, with the aim of facilitating greater trade between the territories on the island of Grand Cayman.
Despite their being part of the wider Caribbean region and the existence of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), trade and economic cooperation between the French Caribbean Outermost regions (FCORs) and EU Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) in the Caribbean and CARIFORUM territories remains under-developed. The exception to this is Trinidad and Tobago who exports large quantities of energy and energy related products to FCORs and OCTs.
Studies commissioned by Caribbean Export, as well as by others, indicate that there are significant opportunities for trade between CARIFORUM and the FCORs and OCTs as the latter import an average of 90% of their goods and services. There are opportunities therefore for CARIFORUM countries to strengthen trade with these territories in particular for raw materials, primary agricultural products, agro-processing, tourism, as well as financial and professional services.
Building trade relations requires engagement by the firms and companies that do business. The CARIFORUM-FCOR/OCT Business Forum facilitated 40 plus companies from CARIFORUM in business meetings with counterparts from the FCORs (Guadeloupe and Martinique) and the OCTS (Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Curacao, etc.). This provided concrete opportunities for participating firms to promote their products and services to new markets and to negotiate trade deals. The forum also provided an opportunity for regional businesses to discuss mechanisms and solutions for in-market support for CARIFORUM firms trading or attempting to trade with the Guadeloupe and Martinique. One of the highlights of the forum was a presentation from Health City Cayman Islands. This facility is a new state of the art facility that offers excellent opportunities for health tourism in the Cayman Islands.
“A cohesive network is key to establishing regional trade. Trade within the Caribbean is only possible through the establishment of strong linkages and our facilitation of business meetings between CARIFORUM, FCOR and OCT firms at CEC is a step closer towards building the kinds of relationships required to grow regional trade. CEC represents Caribbean commerce at its highest quality and functionality and should be commended for pioneering a successful economic zone in the region,” Commented Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, Pamela Coke-Hamilton.
Participants of the Business Forum also visited the Cayman Enterprise City (CEC). CEC is a special economic zone that was established in 2012 and is designed to attract international companies operating in the technology and knowledge-based industries. A recipient of Caribbean Export’s Special Award at the Regional Investor of the Year Awards 2013, CEC enables entrepreneurs and established businesses to set up physical operations in the Cayman Islands with offices and staff on the ground, and to take advantage of Cayman’s tax-neutral status along with a draft of special zone concessions granted by the Cayman Islands Government. To date, over 150 firms are operating from the CEC, generating foreign direct investment and with an estimated CI$15 million impact on the local economy.