GEORGETOWN, Guyana — The private sector must play a crucial role if CARICOM is to achieve the results from the priorities laid out last year by CARICOM Heads of Government, says CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque.
He made the point business luncheon hosted by the Guyana Manufacturers and Services Association (GMSA) in Georgetown, Guyana last week.
LaRocque said emphasised the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) which he described as “relevant” and a “work in progress and cited the successes and potential of the CSME to support his position that the CARICOM market continued to be a business opportunity for the region’s private sector.
“The CSME still represents tremendous potential to achieve the goals of growth and employment and to provide business opportunities, both with respect to manufacturing and services. It is a vehicle through which businesses utilizing the enlarged single economic space, now with a market of some 6 million, could begin to expand their horizons to enhance their competitiveness and so use the regional platform as a springboard into the global environment. And the market will grow to 15 million as soon as Haiti, a Member of the Caribbean Community, puts the necessary requirements in place to participate in the CSME,” he said.
LaRocque noted that the Heads of Government had identified job creation as a priority area for the CARICOM. He noted this in his address and pointed out that it was critical that the regional environment for private sector involvement and growth be created to provide the much-needed employment.
“…I am convinced that in order to achieve results from the priorities laid out by the Heads of Government, the private sector must play a crucial role. A valid question would therefore be what are we doing at the level of the Community to create an environment for you to prosper and contribute to the development of this Region and to advance your prospects in the global market place? What are we doing to convey to the people of CARICOM that we are taking a different and more dynamic approach to addressing their concerns? Perhaps, thus far, we have been taking too much of a theoretical and dogmatic approach rather than a strategic and pragmatic approach in the creation of the CSME,” LaRocque said.
He identified trade facilitation and transportation as two of the key areas that, once addressed, could potentially double intra-regional trade from its current 16 per cent of total trade. He also highlighted costly telecommunications and energy services as areas that needed more priority and focused attention.
“However, even with those challenges, and indeed there are others, this region has been able to be globally competitive in some products and services. The success of El Dorado Rum is just one such example of the quality that regional products have attained. Guyana furniture is seen in many hotels throughout the Caribbean, and I am told in the United States.
“I have also been to factories in St Kitts and Nevis which specialise in the production of top quality hi-tech goods for the international market. These factories are taking advantage of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU), as well as exporting to the United States of America (USA), Latin America and Asia including China. Exports to the USA alone amount to almost $68 million annually,” he said.