The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) convened a high level regional consultation to examine the rationale for market intelligence and its relevance to building export competitiveness; and to secure agreement on the development of a regional export strategy. The consultations took place from June 5th– 6th at the Radisson Aquatica Resort, Barbados. The meeting was attended by stakeholders from across the region.
In her opening remarks Executive Director for Caribbean Export, Pamela Coke Hamilton, stressed that “Market research and competitive intelligence can help, and is necessary for helping the CARIFORUM private sector to better understand a number of issues in export markets such as the market entry requirements for their products, consumer demand patterns and trends, competitor and substitute products, distribution networks and the regulatory requirements that affect their businesses.”
Caribbean Export has a mandate under the 10th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme (RPSDP) which speaks to the development of a regional trade and market intelligence system. The Agency’s efforts to date have focused on the delivery of products and services based on the trade information needs identified by the private sector and Business Support Organisations (BSOs) across the region. An important tool in the arsenal is the Caribbean Export Market Intelligence Portal (CE-MIP), an online tool which provides searchable market research features as well as a library of market intelligence products.
This consultation meeting also enabled much needed open dialogue between the stakeholders to help inform decisions on the formulation of regional export strategies. There is a direct link between market intelligence and export strategy development, which must be understood if the trajectory of regional exports is to be augmented. “We must also identify and select attractive markets based on global supply and demand trends, trade flows and market access for our products. Understanding those markets is invaluable before engaging in any firm-specific building initiatives,” stated Coke-Hamilton.
Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Hon. Donville Inniss reiterated the Executive Director’s remarks, commenting that what is of “paramount importance for firms is their ability to design and implement marketing programmes to communicate the existence of their products within external markets and to put in place feedback mechanisms through which they improve on their product offerings”. He also pointed out that “far too often we are still going according to gut feelings or personal contacts. We must accept that market research is an integral part of the firms activities into which appropriate human and financial capital must be invested.”
Caribbean Export also unveiled an Exporters Toolkit the aim of which is to provide a suite of information, guides, and templates to support region’s private sector in their efforts for exporting. The two-day consultations concluded with stakeholders endorsing the CE-MIP and confirming the need for continued build out of the current market intelligence products such as the Market Pointers and Market Opportunity Briefs. Stakeholders also endorsed the development of regional strategies for agro-processing, creative industries, and higher-education services but with a focus on brand development, enhancing access to the global value chain for regional producers and exporters, and strengthening of IP elements; and gave the thumbs-up for the Caribbean Exporter’s Toolkit expected to be launched shortly.