Warning for Caribbean countries

“Success in carrying out the required structural changes will position Caribbean economies to take advantage of exciting new trends in international trade and business,” President of the Barbados based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr. Warren Smith told the annual meeting of the board of governors  here on Wednesday.

He said that a major imperative for regional economies “is the need to enhance the environment for the production of internationally competitive goods and services.

“This is no easy task, but it lies at the core of developing a more resilient Caribbean economy,” Smith told the governors, comprising mainly finance ministers from the 15 member CARICOM grouping.

He said that the new initiative would necessitate introducing a raft of structural changes which address constraints to the emergence and the growth of new industries.

“To facilitate these changes, we must be proactive in introducing reforms which improve the business climate. One useful tool for continuously measuring progress in this regard, is the systematic application and monitoring of the results of the World Bank’s “Doing Buisness’ Survey,” he added.

Smith said that there is also need for the Caribbean to make “real progress” towards reducing the cost of electricity, noting that for the larger Caribbean economies this would require fuel switching equipment.

“The smaller countries will have no choice but to interconnect to existing and newly emerging low-cost energy production sites in neighbouring countries. Close collaboration between the producing and consuming countries is a prerequisite for making this a reality,” he told the meeting.

The Jamaican-born economist said that all countries must accord high priority to energy efficiency, particularly in the area of conservation, “which remains the most efficacious means of reducing energy costs”.

He said that the Caribbean also needed to prioritise the wide scale introduction of broad band internet to drive down the cost of communication, especially for business and education.

Smith said that the region also needed to re-brand the tourism sector to reflect the changes in taste and preferences in the market place as well as expanding the skill sets in these industries.

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