Caricom trade ministers and the regional business community highlighted the importance of a structured partnership on the second and final day of the 38th Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) at the Pegasus Hotel last week.
The meeting which included representative bodies of the private sector, examined integration at work through the private sector; the establishment of a conducive environment for business, trade and growth of the private sector, and by extension development of the Community, focusing on key issues such as transportation for people, goods and services to move throughout the Region; ease of doing business in the Region, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to improve efficiencies and competencies, and the effective utilization of the Caricom Single Market and Economy as a single space, a press release from the Caricom Secretariat said. Public-private partnerships were also discussed.
“Both sides acknowledged the utility of a mature and structured partnership in order to boost growth and development,” the statement said.
Acting Chair of COTED, Alva Baptiste, Minister of External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation of Saint Lucia, welcomed the representatives of the wide cross-section of Caribbean businesses associations and noted that it was an opportunity for establishing a better relationship between the Councils of the Community and the private sector. It was well documented that growth and development of the private sector was important for the dynamism of the economies of the Region, he said, adding that the current global situation calls for a scenario where all social partners cooperated under their respective mandates, to assist with the further development of member states.
“Today, there must be an effective consultative mechanism with the private sector. So this special session is a positive move to renew the relationship between the organs of the Community and the private sector. COTED is leading the way,” Baptiste said. He also lauded the positive response of the private sector to the engagement and called for frank and meaningful exchanges that would lead to results.
By the end of the session which Caricom Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque described as “excellent”, elements of what could be a private sector strategy for its contribution to the growth and development of the Region were identified. The business community met immediately after to plan the way forward.
According to the statement, among the private sector bodies represented at the meeting on Saturday were the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC); the Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC); the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Business Council; the Caribbean Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (CASME); Caribbean Poultry Association (CPA); Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Youth Entrepreneurship; the Suriname Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce; the Barbados Private Sector; the Caribbean Farmers Network; and the Barbados Agriculture Society.