Caribbean Export Development Agency, in collaboration with the Regional Investment Promotion Steering Committee (a think tank that was set up by Caribbean Export in 2012 to deliberate on matters related to investment promotion), convened a Regional Investment Promotion Stakeholders’ Forum, which was held at the Radisson Aquatica Resort in Barbados on July 11-12, 2013. The event saw participation from 35 representatives from the 15 CARIFORUM member states including the investment promotion agencies and policymakers within the Ministries with responsibility for investment attraction.
The Forum sought to focus attention on the development of a Regional Investment Promotion Strategy (RIPS) and Implementation Plan. The Strategy will seek to position the Caribbean as an ideal location for investment.
The Forum was officiated by the Chairman of the Regional Investment Promotion Steering Committee, Professor Alvin Wint, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies. Opening remarks were delivered by Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of Caribbean Export Development Agency, Mr. Ronald Theodore, President of the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA) and Mr. Hubert Perr, the First Councillor and Head of Operations for the European Union Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.
In her opening comments, Mrs. Coke Hamilton noted how pleased she was that the development of the Strategy was being guided by regional stakeholders. She indicated that the document’s development was timely, given the current downward trend in regional foreign direct investment flows into the Caribbean region, flows which have not recovered since the beginning of the crisis in 2008, despite the recovery evident in other developing countries. She also pointed to the need to address issues related to fiscal incentives that are being offered by governments in the region to investors – incentives which were among the highest in the world. Mrs. Coke Hamilton reiterated the commitment of Caribbean Export to work with regional stakeholders in the development and implementation of strategies that would increase the perception of investors of the Caribbean as an ideal location for investing.
Mr. Theodore, the President of CAIPA, highlighted the work that has been undertaken to date by the Association through its Secretariat, Caribbean Export, to strengthen the capacity of the investment promotion agencies within the region to target and attract investment flows. He noted that for the IPAs of the region, it can no longer be business as usual. He indicated that the role of CAIPA is now ever more crucial to “leverage opportunities for joint marketing and promotion and to build capacity of IPAs through training and information sharing.”
Mr. Perr of the EU delegation sought to encourage participants to adopt a “bold and creative approach”, developing strategies that are new and innovative in areas such as the creative industries and clean technology. He noted the critical importance for the investment promotion agencies in the region to adopt a coherent and cohesive approach to investment promotion, despite their being competitors, highlighting the importance of working together in order to gain the highest results.
The meetings other proceedings included the presentation of findings from two studies that were undertaken by Caribbean Export, namely, the Investor Perception Survey for CARIFORUM and the Benchmarking Investment Incentives in CARIFORUM against those of major competitors. The findings of these studies, along with a review of existing Regional Investment Promotion Strategies and an update on the development of the Caribbean Growth Forum, an initiative that is being led by Compete Caribbean, guided proposals for the development of the scope of services for the Strategy, on day two of the meeting. It is anticipated that a request for proposal for the development of the Strategy will be published within the next two months.
Funding for this activity was provided by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund Regional Private Sector Development Programme that is managed by Caribbean Export.