Bridgetown, Barbados – Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, Pamela Coke-Hamilton says private sector organizations across the Caribbean are in urgent need of support as they continue to mitigate the negative effects of the global recession that started six years ago.
Coke-Hamilton, in an address to delegates at the opening of the Caribbean Exporters’ Colloquium in Bridgetown, Barbados, said while regional governments have been implementing a number of measures to stabilize economies, the private sector has been severely impacted.
“The situation varies from country to country and as a regional agency it behoves us to organize this regional gathering to examine the way forward in Building Economic resilience in the Caribbean.”
She pointed to the work being done by the Caribbean Export Development Agency with the establishment of a private sector advisory group that includes businesspersons from across the Caribbean and added that an increase in export competitiveness could ensure that the private sector has “the necessary platforms for engaging policy makers directly”.
In order to build economic resilience she said the region must look at other ways of contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – one way of doing this is through copyright and other forms of intellectual property (IP). “However, there needs to be a cultural shift to viewing IPs as having the potential to provide benefits for Caribbean citizens… in select Caribbean countries IP has accounted for a very small percentage of GDP.”
According to Coke-Hamilton, the trend towards registering IP needs to be spread across the region – “not just registering UP but also building brands and valuing the IP within those brands.”
In addition to IP rights and branding she said Caribbean countries have been recognizing the role of innovation as a catalyst for economic development.
As a result Caribbean Export has developed a Regional Innovation Advisory Group (RIAG) that will function as a “think tank” for matters related to innovation, technology transfer, sharing of best practices and guiding the development of a regional innovation strategy and implementation plan.
Under the theme “Building Economic resilience for the Caribbean”, the Colloquium opened on Tuesday at the Hilton Barbados resort and is funded by the European Union as part of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Regional Private Sector Development Programme (RPSDP) that the Agency is currently implementing.
For the duration of the conference, Caribbean experts will focus on the performance of some of the key sectors in the region. At the end of the two-day meeting, the colloquium hopes to have specific recommendations in place to focus on helping the private sector to overcome the numerous challenges in the region.