The Caribbean Export Development Agency is a tribute to the organizational skills of Hayden Blades

Dear Editor,

I refer to Joycelyn Williams’ article on the Caribbean Export Development Agency featured in Stabroek Business of Friday, April 18, 2014.

It is important to note that there is a pre-history, if you will, to the reported establishment of the agency. It was the Caricom Secretariat with Roderick Rainford as Secretary General, who initiated the formation of CEDA in Barbados, in the mid 1980s (the actual year escapes the memory from which I write). Hayden Blades (Barbadian) who was a Director at the Secretariat was assigned the task of setting up the first office, and recruiting the first team of professionals and of course support staff.

As Head of the Secretariat’s Human Resource Desk, I joined Hayden throughout several stays in a congenial beach front office just outside Bridgetown, where over days and nights we interviewed more than one hundred candidates for the various positions deemed necessary to operationalize the agency. I remember one Guyanese, Lee Persaud, was recruited out of Canada as the Finance Manager; while other positions were filled by other bright professionals out of Jamaica, St Lucia, Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad. Earle Bacchus, Trinidadian, was appointed the first Director.

By the time I left the Caricom Secretariat in 1991 the agency was well established. Some time later when I paid a courtesy call on its relocated posh offices in Bridgetown, I was impressed with the self-confidence being exuded by what was now acknowledged as Caribbean Export.

I was glad to have been there at the beginning of an institution which should be an enduring tribute to the organisational skills of Hayden Blades, and of a project of which the Caricom Secretariat could well be proud.

Yours faithfully,
E B John

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