The Caribbean Investment Summit 2015 under the themeThe Climate is Right in the Caribbean, was held in London, UK on 10 September 2015, co-organized by the Caribbean Export Development Agency and the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies. It brought together seven of the Caribbean investment promotion agencies, and more than 100 investors and key stakeholders, in an effort to attract FDI into a portfolio of investment ready projects in the Caribbean.
The opening ceremony, that was emceed by Ms. Courtney Fingar, editor in chief of fDiMagazine (of the Financial Times), was officiated by H.E. the Right Hon. Perry Christie, Prime Minister of the Bahamas. The Prime Minister noted the importance of hosting the event in London highlighting that based on the 2014 Wealth Report “…London had more ultra-high net worth individuals than any other city in the world in 2013, and will continue to maintain its pre-eminence for the next decade.” The Prime Minister also reiterated to the investors at the forum the 4 main reasons why the climate is indeed right for inward investment in the Caribbean. He noted that the Caribbean has recovered well from the financial crisis, that there are significant opportunities in renewable energy, there has been increased efforts in the region to strengthen human capital to support the attraction of FDI and that innovation and public private partnerships are being used to attract FDI, noting several examples of this happening in the Bahamas and across the region.
The plenary session also saw opening remarks from the Executive Director of Caribbean Export, Ms. Pamela Coke Hamilton, who emphasized the continued role of her Agency in promoting and supporting a collaborative approach to attracting FDI into the Caribbean. Ms. Coke Hamilton highlighted the success of the region in supporting successes such as Grace Kennedy, Digicel and Tucker Energy Services (TES). She noted the many reasons investors have chosen the Caribbean highlighting that “…among their top priorities are location, openness of trade, infrastructural developments, a skilled labour force, economic and political stability, and flexible incentives.”
Mr. McHale Andrew, President of the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA) highlighted for those present the results of 2 studies undertaken on investor perception in the region. He noted that based on the findings, investors came to the region to take advantage of the market access and the political and economic stability the region provides. Mr. Andrew underscored the fact that that the Caribbean is second only to the OECD countries in Trading Across Borders and Protection of Investors indicators in the World Bank’s <em>Doing Business Report</em> of 2014. He also noted that as many as 81% of existing investors are reinvesting or plan to reinvest in the Caribbean and that 71% of investors polled would be likely or very likely to recommend the Caribbean host country’s business climate.
The opening ceremony was followed by break-out sessions where the investment promotion agencies from the Caribbean were able to discuss the details of their country’s investment ready projects in the areas of renewable energy, business process outsourcing, niche tourism and other strategic investment opportunities. The discussions were guided by panel moderators, namely, Mr. Frank Comito, CEO of the Caribbean Hotel Tourism Association, Mr. Yoni Epstein, President of the Business Process Outsourcing Association in Jamaica, Mr. Johan Sydow, CEO of Sitek (focused on renewable energy) and Mr. Mark Williamson, leading the other strategic investment opportunities discussion.
The Investment Summit also presented an excellent opportunity to collaborate with fDi Magazine of the Financial Times in the hosting of a reception and the presentation of awards to Caribbean IPAs who ranked among the top 10 in fDi Magazine’s recently announced Caribbean and Central American Countries of the Future ranking. Among the top performers in the region was the Dominican Republic, receiving recognition for its Connectivity, FDI Strategy, Economic Potential, Cost effectiveness and Business Friendliness; Trinidad who was the winner for Cost Effectiveness and among the top 10 for its FDI Strategy, Connectivity and Business Friendliness; Barbados, who ranked among the top 10 for FDI Strategy, Cost Effectiveness and Human Capital and Lifestyle; and Jamaica, the winner of FDI Strategy and among the top 10 for Connectivity and Business Friendliness. Also receiving awards for FDI strategy and Cost Effectiveness were: the Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, St. Lucia and Grenada.
The Investment Promotion Agencies present at the event were as follows: the Bahamas Investment Authority, BelizeInvest, the Centre for Export and Investment in the Dominican Republic, the Centre for the Facilitation of Investments in Haiti, the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation, Invest Saint Lucia and Jamaica Promotions Limited (JAMPRO).