Competitiveness of the Caribbean
Regional Trade & Investment Conference
On April 1 &2, 2003, Caribbean Latin American Action (CLAA) hosted in collaboration with the Government of Barbados and the U.S. Department of Commerce "Competitiveness of the Caribbean", a regional trade & investment conference in Bridgetown, Barbados. This important meeting brought together key public & private sector leaders from the U.S. and across the region to address with a greater sense of urgency, the development challenges affecting the Caribbean.
Over two hundred participants, including regional decision makers, enthusiastically gathered to examine the regions ability to successfully participate in the competitive hemispheric & global arena. Discussions centered on how to accelerate the transformation agendaintegration, harmonization, impartial application of the lawrequired to attract the foreign investment necessary to finance economic development in the Caribbean. CLAAs mission of Strengthening the Third Border through promoting democracy and private sector led sustainable economic development in the smaller economies that make up the Caribbean Basin was bolstered by the participation of key regional and U.S. leaders. It was recognized that the geographic proximity of the Caribbean Basin to the U.S. has become even more important in terms of the United States national security and strategic interests.
The resulting Industry Area Workshop Summaries and the Public Policy Area Workshop Summaries highlight one of the over-ridding themes which emerged from the Conference: foreign investment, a necessary pre-requisite for economic development, will not come to the region unless the region addresses issues related to economies of scale, inefficient business practices and lack of predictability. The general consensus across industry and public policy lines was that the private and public sectors should play an active role by stamping out inefficiencies that serve as barriers to generating greater investment and trade. In particular, participants called for the establishment of a uniform legal and regulatory framework across the region and greater harmonization of standards & procedures.
Another one of the key sentiments arising from the conference was the urgency for action and commitment to change. Many participants cited the upcoming FTAA in 2005 and the on-going global communications and technology revolution having a significant impact on the region. The call for the gathered leaders, both in the private and public sectors, to "walk the talk" and take action towards adopting more rapidly the agenda of transformation in the region was well received.
Competitiveness of the Caribbeanis one of an ongoing series of initiatives by CLAA. The organization is committed to serving as a forceful advocate for overcoming the barriers to the increased foreign investment and trade essential to making the region more competitive.