CARICOM, Cuba agree to expand preferential market access

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Cuba have  reached agreement for the expansion of preferential access to each other’s markets.
Agreement to this end came at the meeting between the two sides held January monthend. The Tenth Meeting of the Joint Commission Established Under the Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement Between CARICOM and Cuba convened at the CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana, 30-31 January.
A significant number of items from the Community, including beer, fish and other agricultural products, and manufactured goods, have been approved for entry into the Cuban market free of duty once both sides formalise the agreement. CARICOM Member States have also agreed to grant duty-free access to Cuban goods, including pharmaceuticals. More Developed Countries (MDC)  in the Community will also determine the level of preference they will grant to Cuba on a number of other items.
The agreement also includes a number of items on which each MDC will determine the level of preference it will grant to Cuba.
Exploratory discussions on trade in services were also held. The two sides agreed to continue to exchange information on trade in services, and to make efforts to advance cooperation in this area, particularly in tourism.
Courtesy: CARICOM Today

Caribbean Sustainable Energy Forum 2017

St Lucia Ambassador to the OAS His Excellency Anton Edmunds and CAIC Secretary Dav-Ernan Kowlessar at the Networking Event of the CSEF 2017

The 2017 Caribbean Sustainable Energy Forum (CSEF), is the fifth clean energy event of the Caribbean Community, with the intention of connecting policy and strategy with implementation and practice in high level dialogue to identify actions that can promote a shift to sustainable energy through increased use of renewable energy sources and improvements in energy efficiency in CARICOM member states.

Held at the British Colonial Hilton in Nassau, Bahamas from January 23rd to 25th, the agenda includes panels on the following: -

  • Effectively linking the Nationally Determined Contributions, Caribbean Sustainable Energy Roadmap and Strategy (C-SERMS) and Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Policy Strategy and Planning - the CARICOM Energy Policy, Roadmap and Strategy
  • Lessons learned from 2012-2017 in CARICOM's Energy Transition.
  • Building a culture of effective Energy Statistics and Information management within the region.
  • Integrating Efficiency and Renewable Energy into the Regional Energy System.
  • Unlocking the appropriate quantity and quality of capital for the region's sustainable energy needs
  • CARICOM's Energy Transition outlook on the next ten years.

This Forum is attended by CAIC's Secretary, Dav-Ernan Kowlessar who participated on Monday in a C-SERM working group on Policy and Regulation. Organised by the CARICOM Secretariat in collaboration with the government of The Bahamas, the Forum is attended by Energy Ministers from membe states, senior officials from national, regional and international institutions, and industry experts.

The Forum coincides with the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference and Trade Show at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad from January 23rd to 25th.

Webinar - "Are oil and gas smothering the private sector in Trinidad and Tobago?"

The Caribbean and Central American Action (CCAA) in collaboration with the IDB are hosting a webinar based on the IDB publication: "Are oil and gas smothering the private sector in Trinidad and Tobago".

The author of the study, Jeetendra Khadan and other expert panelists will discuss the key findings of the study in a webinar on January 26, 2017 from 10:00am to 11:30am EST. The webinar is free and open to all. To register for the webinar follow this link.

When you register you will receive a confirmation email to join the webinar. If you do not receive one please email Gwen Siegel at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to join the discussion.

New Representative of Saint Lucia to the OAS Presents Credentials

The new Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the Organization of American States (OAS), Anton E. Edmunds, today presented his credentials to the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, in a ceremony at the headquarters of the Organization in Washington DC.

During his speech, Ambassador Edmunds highlighted the issues of democracy and sustainable development as key for the region, as well as the unique role the OAS is meant to play. “We must continue to be an Organization representative of all of the peoples in our hemisphere, it is critical. It is what our legitimacy is based upon. And ultimately it is within this framework that Saint Lucia wishes to continue to play a proactive and a forward-leaning role in terms of the Organization and the work that the organization does.”

In welcoming the representative of Saint Lucia, the Secretary General highlighted his experience in the public and private sector as well as his connections to the business and diplomatic community in Washington and in the region. “I have no doubt you will apply your expertise and connections in support of the work of the OAS and in helping the Organization to address the challenges facing its member states,” he said.

Source: OAS

The Call for Public-Private Engagement in Education

By Dante Cid, VP, Academic Relations, Latin America – Elsevier/RELX Group

“We need to develop and disseminate an entirely new paradigm and practice of collaboration that supersedes the traditional silos that have divided governments, philanthropies and private enterprises for decades and replace it with networks of partnerships working together to create a globally prosperous society.” – Simon Mainwaring
Collaboration propels goals. Collaboration optimizes the capacity to go beyond boundaries and limits. That is the reason why companies like Coca-Cola and Heinz partner to manufacture a more sustainable, 100% plant-derived container. That is why research hubs like CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, create large-scale scientific collaboration on particle physics with academics, medium-sized companies and start-ups from all around the globe. Collaboration drives government agencies like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to work with Google to track the spread of viruses. In this case, early detection of a disease outbreak can reduce the number of people affected and enable governments to better respond to epidemics.
There are numerous examples, but the conclusion is the same. “Together we are stronger.” And that’s exactly what the Americas Business Dialogue (ABD) is all about.
A private sector driven initiative facilitated by the Inter-American Development Bank , ABD was created for the private sector to have a more active and constructive role in policy discussions that are important for the Americas. Education and human capital development are areas that would benefit from this interaction.
Working side by side with companies in the IT, pharmaceutical, and telecom sectors, the RELX Group has been engaged in the Human Capital and Innovation working group since its inception. At Elsevier, RELX’s business that is the main information provider of scientific and medical research in the world, we have a privileged view of research on a global scale. Elsevier’s plethora of research data enables us to understand the trends in specific fields of study, as well as identify research competencies for determined countries or regions.
Elsevier data shows that Chile, for example, has an emerging competency in the area of stars research with 13% of global research production. While high-energy physics has become an emerging competency for Colombia, who has been collaborating with innovation hubs abroad, like CERN, which I mentioned before. We can also see that Cuba is a leader in dengue research, just behind the United States. Or looking at specific areas like agronomy and crop science, you can observe that while research on rice, wheat and genes is dropping, corn is growing.
That is the type of insight that the private sector can bring to the table and help governments map who will the best partner for each knowledge field. Furthermore, certain industries can predict what are the skills sets that will be needed in the future. That information can be essential for government to better plan where the budget should be invested in. Having institutional forums where governments of the region can engage directly with businesses ensures, for example, that the demand for skilled labor and competitiveness is met in the future.
But, let’s go back to the work of the ABD. For three years, this group has been examining innovation and human capital in the Americas, focusing on what does an innovation-friendly environment mean, but also what types of initiatives could the business sector support local governments in. Language and STEM-focused education are areas that were pointed out by the business sector from the Americas of where the region lags behind. With that in mind, the group recommends:

  • Stimulate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, as well as entrepreneurship, through exchange programs, in particular to support the development of the human capital necessary for the infrastructure, logistics, energy and natural resources sectors.
  • Promote the implementation of public-private partnerships for technical and vocational education, as well as education in foreign languages, to create a larger, more qualified and more mobile workforce that responds to the demand for skills from the private sector and the needs of local communities

These initiatives are aimed at enhancing hemispheric competitiveness, increasing prosperity, and providing study abroad opportunities to better prepare a globally aware and culturally competent workforce.
I’m looking forward to the Education Network’s Regional Policy Dialogue “Bridging the Public and Private sectors in Education” that is being hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Council of the Americas –with the support of the Americas Business Dialogue- in Washington, DC on November 7th. This is the perfect venue with government education authorities and private sector leaders from the region to share ABD policy recommendations and public-private partnership proposals and discuss how to improve the competitiveness of the Americas through efforts focused on education and human capital development.

Courtesy: Americas Business Dialogue


By Prof. Edward Davis

October 28, 2016 (GEORGETOWN, Guyana) -- A study team consisting of Faculty and staff from the University of Guyana (UG), The University of the West Indies, and various U.S. Institutions, along with Guyanese business professionals and a UG student representative, convened October 27 – 28 to perform an initial assessment of the feasibility of establishing at the UG a School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation (SEBI). The study team is chaired by Professor Edward Davis, Interim Dean of the Business School at Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia.

During their brief visit, the team has had the opportunity to hear from stakeholders, including entrepreneurs, corporations and UG faculty, to gauge their reactions regarding the establishment of the SEBI. The team has also toured the UG Turkeyen Campus, with one member visiting the Tain campus, to view facilities, including classrooms, faculty and staff offices, the technology centre, and on-campus student housing. Team members took the opportunity of their visit to interact briefly with students.

Over the coming weeks, the team will synthesize these initial findings to begin preparation of a feasibility report to be presented to UG Vice-Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith in early 2017.

The team thanks all of those who so graciously gave their ideas and thoughts about this very important initiative. The team also wishes to thank the Vice-Chancellor, his team and all of those from The UG for their openness in responding to our inquiries.

It is our pledge to provide our very best counsel for this important initiative for the UG, the country and the region.
For further information contact Prof. Edward Davis at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. //404 880 8475

Grenada government postpones constitutional referendum again

By Caribbean News Now contributor

ST GEORGE'S, Grenada -- Citing a need for additional time to complete the public education process, the government of Grenada has postponed yet again the referendum on constitutional reform most recently planned for October 27.

In a press statement, the government noted, that proposed constitutional reform has been ongoing for many years, with a well-documented history of academic research and consultations that have informed this latest attempt.

However, with seven Bills finally settled on, and with the announced date approaching, the government, as well as the leadership of Constitutional Review Advisory Committee (CRAC), said it had noticed that the entire nation has begun to pay attention to the issues, in a way that has been unprecedented.

"We have sensed a genuine increase in national interest – and at the same time, people are asking for more time to become more familiar with what is being proposed.

"While we appreciate that we cannot have an open-ended process, we understand the magnitude and historic significance of the Bills being presented to Grenadians for their approval," the statement read.

According to the government, iIn particular, one clause in the Rights and Freedoms Bill has caused growing concerns in some circles. After extensive general discussion, including with the chairman and other members of CRAC, the government said it believes that this, and any other lingering issues of clarity, must be addressed.

"All the contributions of the various stakeholders on this matter have been considered and against this background, the cabinet has decided that it would serve the public good if approximately another month be given for the education process to be completed," the statement continued.

The governor general has therefore been advised that a new date should be set for the holding of a referendum and the Office of the Governor General will issue the relevant writs to give effect to this new decision. The Electoral Office will take charge of the process.

"We believe that this decision is in the broader national interest, and is consistent with the consultative posture of the government, as well the Constitutional Review Commission from the very onset.

"We invite all Grenadians to remain engaged in this dynamic process as we continue this long march to improving our constitutional arrangements – and in building a brighter future for not only this generation – but those to come," the statement concluded.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Jamaica foreign minister to issue statement on discussions with Trinidad and Tobago

By Chris Patterson

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- A formal statement outlining discussions to date between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago will be presented to the Jamaican senate soon.

This was disclosed by minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, while responding to questions posed by opposition members regarding relations between the two countries, at Friday’s sitting of the senate.

“The statement will provide a more complete update on where we are with the issues; suffice it to say that progress has been made,” she said.

Johnson Smith informed that, although the new facility for persons who have been denied entry has not been completed by its July deadline at the Piarco International Airport, another area has been constructed and renovated to “facilitate persons who are not landed”.

“It was toured by minister of national security, Hon. Robert Montague, and our high commissioner on October 13. There are improvements which we have asked for, including the installation of a telephone,” she said.

Johnson Smith said the installation of the telephone will allow persons to communicate with relevant parties who could assist if they have been denied entry.

The minister further noted that discussions were undertaken with minister of foreign and CARICOM affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, Senator Dennis Moses, during the 71st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which was held in New York from September 19 to 24.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Caribbean can benefit from EPA, says Barbados PM

By Sharon Austin

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has expressed the view that the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) “bristles with opportunities” from which the Caribbean region can benefit.

Stuart made the comments on Tuesday as he delivered the feature address at the inaugural two-day European Union-CARIFORUM Sustainable Energy.

The prime minister told his audience: “Commitment to the successful implementation of the EPA has never waned. In fact, tangible contributions have been made by the EU and its member states under the Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme, the UK’s CARTFund and the German development body GIZ.

“This assistance has benefited the public sector, the private sector and regional institutions alike, thereby making a significant contribution to bolstering this region’s capacity to trade with the EU. We remain robust in our determination to seize the opportunities which we have negotiated under this comprehensive trading arrangement.”

The CARIFORUM-EU EPA, which was signed in 2008, is a trade and sustainable development agreement composed of measures to stimulate trade and investment between the two regions, build a regional market, and help to eliminate poverty.

The EPA seeks to move away from the preferential treatment to the region to a WTO compliant arrangement which seeks to substantially open up all trade between the Caribbean and the EU.

Stuart pointed out that the agreement, while ground-breaking as the first comprehensive North-South trade and development agreement in the global economy, was yet to see a noticeable shift in the terms of trade with the EU, since time was needed to build the capacity in the region to fully exploit the opportunities offered.

He added that it was unfortunate that the process of finalising the negotiations that would lead to the CARIFORUM–EU EPA coincided with the “onset of a prolonged period of fiscal and economic turmoil” in many economies across the world.

Stuart said the Caribbean was not unmindful of the need to eventually re-negotiate the terms and conditions under various trade agreements such as the EPA and the WTO with both the UK and member states of the European Union.

“I therefore wish to echo the sentiments of some of my colleagues that it may well be time for us in the region to focus more attention on political engagement with the EU to ensure the promotion and protection of our interests in a volatile global economy where the currents of individualism are growing more powerful and more pronounced,” the prime minister stated.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Trinidad and Tobago on brink of economic danger, says PM

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- Declaring that Trinidad and Tobago is on the brink of the danger zone economically, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on Sunday listed a series of construction projects due to come on stream shortly that are aimed at kick starting the economy.

Rowley said the proposed initiatives would help pull Trinidad and Tobago out of its grim economic state, resulting in much needed job opportunities. He said it was the construction industry that had been proven worldwide to stimulate economic growth, the Trinidad Guardian reported.

Rowley said that Trinidad and Tobago’s debt increased by $40 billion (US$5.97 billion) over the last six years, while revenues pointed downward. The external public debt now stands at $23 billion which must be paid back in US currency, he added

Commenting on the devastation suffered by Haiti from Hurricane Matthew, Rowley also urged citizens to head to banks to donate.

"It doesn't matter how bad your circumstances, there is somebody who is worse. We talk about pressure and poverty here until you think about Haiti," he said.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

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