The voice of the Caribbean Private Sector is strengthened by the formation of the Network of Caribbean Chambers of Commerce (CARICHAM), which was launched on April 1-2, 2019 in Barbados. The Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC) congratulates the CARICHAM members for coming together to engage in areas of disaster risk reduction (DRR), transportation, trade facilitation and promotion, advocacy and membership value creation, as well as knowledge sharing and best practices.
With the CARICHAM designed to foster constructive partnerships, it is hoped that the Network will partner with the CAIC to influence the private sector in its role to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and further the work towards the development of better societies in the region, whilst promoting our productive sectors globally.
The CAIC would like to engage with CARICHAM on the following: -
• Dispute Resolution and Harmonisation of Business Laws through the OHADAC and Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that would allow for FAIR intra-Caribbean trade and increase the ease of doing business within the region, making it attractive for foreign and local direct investment.
At the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) the CAIC has represented the region in influencing deliberations on Investor-State Dispute Relations and the reduction of legal obstacles faced by MSMEs, to which we welcome inputs from the Network.
• The CAIC sees room for collaboration in the area of Disaster Risk Reduction and climate change, for which the CAIC has been the Caribbean champion with its partner Latin American Economic System (SELA) whose focus is to incorporate Business Continuity as a strategic module in business planning. We believe that business continuity is integral post-disaster to allow manufacturers and suppliers of goods and services to minimise disruptions in exporting and diminish the national economic effects.
• To aid the region in achieving the SDGs, the CAIC through its partnerships with the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL) and Caribbean Public Health Agency, along with engagement from the Network to deploy capital can lead to the realisation of decent work standards for labour and the development of healthier societies.
• A healthier society can be achieved and the region’s ranking in supply and value chain can be increased if the CAIC and CARICHAM engage to move the development of the region away from a ‘ready market’ for the rest of the world to diversify the economies from Agriculture to Agri-Business, moving away from energy sector declines to the commercialisation of knowledge transfer in the oil and gas sectors.
There are several other initiatives that the CAIC is engaged in with the objective of innovative, sustainable, and viable economies for the region. To this end, we have lobbied for and given support to organs of CARICOM, CARIFORUM and non-political Caribbean organisations, for it is in their success that the region can be truly united with a negotiating force that will reap choice benefits for the Caribbean.
The CAIC is eager to welcome CARICHAM and other interested parties to lend their support towards the development of sustainable economies in the region. Partnering with Academia through the UWI in pursuit of Public Private Academic Partnerships (PPAP), the CAIC views each stakeholder as integral to propel the region forward in the creation of an innovative environment and the transformation of our economies.
Another area close to our hearts is building on Legacy Foundations in the region and recognises the work being done in Jamaica by Lascelles Chin, ensuring that we are not fully dependent on IFIs for our future but rather, the private sector can invest and reinvest in the future of our societies and generations to come.
Building “Brand Caribbean” is the internationally recognised Cricket West Indies (CWI). Cricket is at the bedrock of the Caribbean and is to date the most successful organisation to unify the region. Nevertheless, CWI does not exist on its own and thus the CAIC supports the CWI in its launch of the ‘WI’ (pronounced “WE”) brand. Outside of the players and the game there is the commercial aspect of cricket, which creates an opportunity for the private sector to get involved to increase the success of the representing teams by investing and developing the regional team, which will be returned in exposure and overall improvement in society.
There is an increase in service providers in the region and while the CAIC has begun discussions at the level of the CARIFORUM-EU Consultative Committee and the ACP to place services on the agenda, we welcome more coordinated support from CARICHAM given their embracing of other BSOs. We suggest that a Cooperative model of advocacy be utilised to ensure that each organisation has an equal vote, which is a direction the CAIC has been heading in. We trust that the Network in its open invitation to other BSOs will give support for the services sector with tangible mechanisms to trade specifically in Modes 3 and 4. This will allow professionals to easily access work in the EU, North America and intra-ACP. It will also encourage and incentivise entrepreneurs to export via a commercial presence in the European and North American markets.
The formation of the Network of Caribbean Chambers of Commerce is similar to the Caribbean Network of Service Coalitions. We believe that despite the differences between product and service, the aim of developing sustainable Caribbean economies should take precedence and the parties will leverage on each other’s strengths and create opportunities with the volume of businesses regionally represented by another of our partners Caribbean Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (CASME), Small Business Associations and non-traditional BSOs.
The CAIC remains committed to serving the Caribbean private sector with our advisory services, negotiation and advocacy through objectivity and transparency, devoid of political and personal interference that the CAIC and similar organisations can fall prey to.