As the regional trade and investment promotion agency for CARIFORUM countries, Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) has been at the forefront of efforts to stimulate interest in services exports in the region.
In the fifteen Member States of CARIFORUM, as elsewhere in the developing world, trade in services is quickly overtaking trade in goods. During the 1980s and 1990s, the region has moved steadily from being an agriculture-based economy, to greater dependency on manufacturing and tourism, with admittedly varying degrees of speed and success. In the last decade, there has been an increasing recognition of the importance of services (i.e. other than tourism) and efforts have been made to tap into this growing global market.
There is a significant range of service products on offer from the region and of export opportunities available, now heightened by recent initialling of the European Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the Caribbean region.
The most frequently identified opportunities are in the following six areas of Professional Services:
Health and Wellness
Business Development services
Production Services for the Entertainment Industry
Caribbean Export has identified a number of specific areas through which it can provide assistance to the region in its efforts to promote professional services. With the assistance of international technical assistance partners such as the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Trade Facilitation Office Canada, work in some of these areas has already commenced and this will be given further momentum in coming months, through the availability to Caribbean Export of additional resources, under the second phase of the EU’s 9th EDF programme. The following are some of Caribbean Export’s specific areas of focus.
Institutional and Network Strengthening
Through funding from the EU under the first phase of its 9th EDF project, Caribbean Export has encouraged the formation of Coalitions of Services Industries at national level and they now exist in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and St. Lucia, with other regional Member States poised to follow. These associations are critical structures for mobilising firm-level interest and activity in the export of services and Caribbean Export will continue to encourage and facilitate their development wherever possible.
Export Strategy Development
With assistance from the Commonwealth Secretariat, four pioneering Strategic Marketing Plans for the Promotion of Professional Services Exports were prepared in 2006, for the Governments of Barbados, Dominica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. These reports have been generally well received: in some instances the strategy document has provided support to work which was already in progress, in others, new steering committees have been established.
A series of presentations by the Agency to key stakeholders such as the Regional Meeting of Services Coalitions and the Caribbean Business Council (CBC) was also successful in positioning the promotion of professional services to the forefront of the region’s development agenda.