CHRIST CHURCH, BARBADOS – As the Caribbean seeks to diversify its services exports, a clear area of comparative advantage is the culture and entertainment sector. In striving to promote Caribbean interests in this sector in external negotiations the CRNM realized that it was first necessary to get a more precise overview of the cultural industries. Based on consultations with industry stakeholders in 2004, the CRNM commissioned a comprehensive study to provide background on the cultural industries in CARICOM and their position in the global market. The CRNM is pleased to release the study The Cultural Industries in CARICOM: Trade and Development Challenges, which was completed in November 2006. It was made possible with funding from the European Commission under the proinvest facility. As the Director General of the CRNM states “The creative sectors hold tremendous potential for promoting the development and economic diversification of this Region. This study is therefore critical as it will assist the Region in formulating the policies that address the key issues and challenges currently affecting this sector.” The study assesses the economic contribution of the cultural/creative industries in CARICOM, to identify the factors constraining the global competitiveness of the sector, and to analyze the relevant trade and investment issues with a view to formulating a strategic action plan for the development of the sector. The aim is to increase the penetration of Caribbean cultural products and services in the global market. There is a growing appreciation of the tremendous creative talents in the Caribbean and the importance of creative industries to Caribbean economies, and their potential for future growth if careful policies are employed in relation to the sector. However, to date, formal support by most governments in the region has been inadequate and this is largely due to the lack of data on the sector. The study investigates the market structure, economic flows and export performance of the various sub-sectors of the cultural industries. Key issues affecting the sector are examined, including trade and border measures; the adequacy of incentives regimes; organizational issues; and industrial and innovation issues. The study emphasizes the importance of intellectual property protection, innovation policy, industrial upgrading and export expansion, as a basis for increased competitiveness and makes recommendations for industry and policy makers based on the emerging opportunities and challenges identified throughout the work. The draft report benefited from input by cultural industry representatives, and culture and trade officials at a CRNM regional workshop on Promoting Creative industries: A Trade and Investment Strategy for the Caribbean held in Barbados in October 2006. The researchers and other participants at that forum agreed that there is an urgent need for appropriate regulatory and policy measures to create an enabling environment for creative industries to realize their full productivity and export potential. Business persons in the creative industries also need to strengthen their organization through the establishment of representative associations. The study also argues that investing in the cultural industries provides worthwhile returns because the sector generates new, high value-added and indigenous forms of employment, production and exports, aids in the diversification of mono-production economies and facilitates a more competitive development platform. The conclusion is that the cultural industries should be viewed as a critical strategic resource in the move towards creating sustainable development options. The recommendations from the study and the workshop will be submitted to various CARICOM bodies for further action to promote the sector. The aim is to inform a coherent Caribbean strategy on the development and promotion of the cultural industries since they have great potential for exports. The Full report, entitled The Cultural Industries in CARICOM: Trade and Development Challenges is available at http://www.crnm.org/culture_oct06.htm
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