Active engagement with private sector critical – COTED Chair
The private sector’s importance in Regional growth and development was the highlight of remarks made at the opening ceremony of the Council for Trade and Economic Development’s Forty-First Meeting in Georgetown, Guyana.
Trade Ministers and representatives of the private sector of the Region continued their engagement at a special session immediately following the opening ceremony.
Reiterating that it was time the Community thought and acted “to change its way of doing business”, Chair of the COTED, Her Excellency Sieglien Burlerson, Minister of Trade and Industry of Suriname, said it was imperative to find active ways of engaging the business community.
We must find a way in actively engaging the private sector. It’s only by working together, that we will be in a position to make policy and implement new strategies. It is the private sector that (trades and does business). In this regard, I consider the session with the private sector of great importance,” the COTED Chair said in her remarks.
Referencing systems that had been put in place to create a conducive business environment, intra-Regional trade, and bilateral trade agreements, Minister Burlerson acknowledged that government and the private sector had to work together to increase production, enhance productivity and improve competitiveness.
CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, said that the private sector was a critical partner with government to stimulate growth.
The importance of this involvement cannot be over-emphasised, given the Community’s commitment to boost growth and employment, as underlined in our Strategic Plan.
The Private Sector is a critical partner with Governments to stimulate economic growth in CARICOM. That partnership is integral to the formulation of public policy for regional and national development, in particular in the areas of production and trade, and investment and finance”, the Secretary-General said in his Statement.
Ambassador LaRocque pointed out that a vibrant and competitive private sector in the Region was important to the strengthening of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). The CSME, he underscored, was the main tool for the Community to build its economic resilience and to provide a platform for further integration into the global economy.
The Special Session with the business community attracted representation from entities including the Private Sector Association of Jamaica (PSOJ), the West Indian Rum and Spirits Association, Caribbean Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (CASME), Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC), Caribbean Poultry Association (CPA), Caribbean Export (CARIBExport), the Private Sector Commission, Guyana, Caribbean Agri-Business Association (CABA).
Presentations, which elicited extensive discussions, were made by CARIBExport, the Economist Intelligence Unit, Columbia Law School, the PSOJ, and Compete Caribbean. The presentations focused on the challenges and priorities of the Regional private sector, doing business in the Region, investment promotion, and the successes of various private sector development interventions and how they could be replicated.
Thursday session followed a re-engagement in May last year when COTED met representatives of the Region’s business community. Then, the wide-ranging talks covered integration at work through the private sector; the establishment of a conducive environment for business, trade and growth of the private sector, and by extension development of the Community, focusing on key issues such as transportation for people, goods and services to move throughout the Region; ease of doing business in the Region, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to improve efficiencies and competencies, and the effective utilisation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy as a single space. Public-private partnerships were also discussed and there was recognition of the need for a more structured dialogue with the business community. Heads of Government of CARICOM subsequently engaged Regional business leaders at their meeting in July 2014 and COTED continued its focus on the private sector during its meeting in November 2014.