Montego Bay, Jamaica (McKoy’s News) – Minister Edmund Bartlett Calls for Caribbean Integration: Caribbean government ministers and senior officials of investment promotion agencies are being implored to embrace regional collaboration and harmonization of policies as a valuable strategy to promoting investment in the region.
The charge came from Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett in his keynote address at the ‘Ministerial Roundtable on Investment Promotion in the Caribbean’, yesterday at the Iberostar Rose Hall Suites in Montego Bay. The event was hosted by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) in collaboration with the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA) and JAMPRO.
Caribbean Integration: Minister Bartlett pointed out that the Caribbean was vulnerable and each country going it alone did not give them the economies of scale. However, with a combined population of 40 million, “if we project the region as one there is a bigger market to appeal to investors who, for instance, could set up an operational base in Jamaica and reach out to the other islands.”
Quoting from the World Investment Report 2017, Minister Bartlett pointed out “global foreign direct investment (FDI) lost momentum in 2016, showing that the road to recovery remains bumpy.” FDI inflows decreased by 2 percent to US$1.75 trillion “amid weak and significant policy risks.”
The report went on to state, “the downward trend in FDI flows to Latin America and the Caribbean accelerated, with inflows falling 14 percent to US$142 billion, owing to continued economic recession, weak commodity prices and pressures on exports.”
FDI is seen as the largest and most constant source of finance for Caribbean economies with positive spillover effects in such areas as technology transfer, job creation and insertion into the global value chain as “essential not just to trade arrangements that we put together but indeed, as we look for investment within the region as well.”
Underscoring the importance of deliberations by the association, Minister Bartlett said with investors often looking at the region before making a decision in which country to invest, adding investment promotion and policy dialogue was also necessary, as survival of small economies depended on that. He also said that many are concerned about making Caribbean integration work with countries struggling to achieve economies of scale because of their size and the transportation challenge, which he said, was at the core of efforts to do collaborative activities.
Minister Bartlett suggested that understanding tourism presented a huge pathway to understanding the value of regionalism, regional cooperation and collaboration. “Perhaps that’s where the economic logic needs to come from and a tourism diplomacy might very well be the vehicle to make this transition,” he said.
He implored the ministers and their senior investment officials to consider how to work together to create the power of a Caribbean that was very visible to a world that viewed all the islands as one geographic area called the Caribbean.