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CARICOM emphasises creation of business opportunities at SELA meeting

The creation of increased opportunities for businesses in the region is a key goal of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as its representatives engage with its Latin American counterparts in Georgetown, Guyana.

A meeting of representatives of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA) got underway on Wednesday morning at the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana, with the aim of addressing the importance of trade, investment and cooperation relations of Mexico, with Central American and Caribbean countries. An analysis of the network of cooperation, economic and trade agreements in the region covering Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean; possibilities for their coordination and convergence; and the existing or potential mechanisms to promote and diversify economic and trade relation, will be done during the sessions that conclude today.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Guyana’s Minister of Business, the Hon. Dominic Gaskin pointed out that increased cooperation with Mexico could increase trade diversification among other partners and create opportunities for businesses across the board, with the Region’s populace firmly positioned as the ultimate beneficiaries.

While calling for the strengthening of mechanisms for cooperation, the Minister said that he was confident that the two-day assessments would advance the integration of economies  and create greater economic opportunities for the region’s peoples.

“The ultimate beneficiary of all of our efforts must be the hundreds of millions of people who formed the population of our countries…in strengthening the mechanisms for cooperation we must ensure that the opportunities created are accessible and beneficial to all sides and at all levels so that diversification in its broadest sense can occur,” the Minister said.

Assistant Secretary-General, Trade and Economic Integration, CARICOM, Mr. Joseph Cox, also referred to the creation of opportunities for the private sector. He pointed out that if greater strides were to be made, issues to be addressed had to include a more informed private sector across the region.

The Private Sector from each side will have to get to know each other better, by gaining a better understanding of the respective business climate and business culture in each country. In so doing, we can build the required trust to do business with each other,” he said.

He added that there was need also to urgently address what is “maybe the biggest constraint in doing business with each other – that of more direct transportation links. The lack of direct or regular air and sea links poses a huge challenge for all cooperation initiatives, especially since it negatively affects competitiveness on both sides.”

He also told delegates that the language difference should be embraced rather than treated as a constraint. The meeting was conducted in both English and Spanish with Mr Javier Gordon Ruiz, Director of Relations for Integration and Cooperation, Permanent Secretariat of SELA welcoming delegates in Spanish.

I need to say that it is an urgent imperative for us in CARICOM to stimulate economic growth in our Member States. I am certain the same applies for both Mexico and Central America. As such, we are duty bound to do whatever it takes to increase trade and investment amongst us. Let us continue to remind ourselves that increased trade and investment translates into increased production, increased employment, increased foreign exchange and thereby increased quality of life for all our citizens,” the Assistant Secretary-General said.

Discussions on Wednesday centred on the Caribbean and trade and cooperation relations with Latin America.

Today, the delegates will discuss trade and cooperation relations between Central America and the rest of Latin America. That discussion will have as its focal point a presentation of the study: ‘Analysis of trade flows between SICA and Latin America and the Caribbean. Policy recommendations for their promotion, stabilization, and diversification’.

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