COULD the Caribbean stand up to recurring economic risks such as climate change and forge a confident pathway for sustainable development?
Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon believes the region has evolved to transform its economies to some extent away from traditional sectors into the production of high value-added goods.
“The Caribbean has an educated, multilingual workforce and sophisticated financial systems, and is a short hop to many of the region’s export markets and trading partners in North America and Latin America.
“The region has great potential to further develop its manufacturing, services, logistics, agriculture, creative and digital sectors.
“As a region we must therefore remain committed to regionalism as we aim to individually and collectively achieve sustainable development,” she said.
Gopee-Scoon was speaking on Wednesday at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine’s Institute of International Relations’s symposium The Caribbean on the Edge: Rising Above the Orthodoxy of Development Thinking.
It was held in tribute to the late Sir Alister McIntyre of Grenada, who was a former UWI vice-chancellor and secretary-general of Caricom and instrumental in developing the Caribbean Free Trade Association (Carifta).
“Today, we understand that development is an all-encompassing concept, marked not only by improving the economic welfare, but by improving the standard of living.
“In that regard, the Government sees the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a road map for emerging economies like ours in the Caribbean to achieve more than economic development, but sustainable development,” Gopee-Scoon said.
Reiterating the government’s plan for a TT trade policy (TTTP) for the years 2019-2023, Gopee-Scoon said, “At its core, the TTTP 2019-2023 seeks to shift TT away from its dependence on the export of a single product.
“Accordingly, the TTTP will serve as a roadmap to change this reality by increasing the production and export of higher value-added goods and services from industries in which the country has comparative advantages.”
She said the government will continue to target the wider Caribbean, as well as South American, Central American, Asian and European economies, for export expansion.
“Our analysis has revealed that significant underutilised trade potential exists in markets in Caricom as well as Latin America, the EU and in Asia, including India, China and the ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) bloc.
“There is also potential in the USA, as a result of the large Caribbean diaspora that exists in that country.”