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Transforming the Caribbean Economy: New Avenues for Investment and Sustainable Development

Tony Blair at the Transforming the Caribbean 
Economy conference, 2 Nov 2006.
Tony Blair at the Transforming the Caribbean Economy conference, 2 Nov 2006.
The conference, fulfilment of an undertaking made by the Prime Minister to Caribbean leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2005, was organised by the FCO in co-operation with the Caribbean Council, and sponsored by Cable and Wireless and other businesses. Lord Triesman, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, chaired the event. Caribbean Ministers attending included the Prime Minister of Barbados, Owen Arthur, President Jagdeo of Guyana and Prime Minster Said Musa from Belize.

The UK has been at the fore-front in fighting for assistance for the Commonwealth Caribbean countries whose economies have been hit by the loss of EU preferential treatment for commodities such as sugar and bananas. The EU has offered transitional assistance to affected countries and the UK is helping them identify how they can diversify their economies.

The schedule for the day included presentations, discussion panels and speeches from panellists from as far as New Zealand, Switzerland and the Commonwealth Caribbean countries. The guest audience came from the private sector, potential investors, bankers, telecommunications companies and members of the tourist industry among others.

Lord Triesman at the Transforming the Caribbean 
Economy conference, 2 Nov 2006.
Lord Triesman at the Transforming the Caribbean Economy conference, 2 Nov 2006.
As well as to seek to define and agree ways in which the Caribbean can make itself more attractive to investment using expertise from both the public and private sectors, the conference aimed to offer the Caribbean countries an opportunity to showcase new investment opportunities. Topics included New opportunities in Caribbean services, Tourism and Allied Industries and the Role of Agriculture in the new Caribbean economy.

The attendees were senior decision-makers in the international business community and the wide range of intermediaries who inform investment decisions. The Caribbean Council and the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce will be considering follow up with the private sector, while individual companies also commented that they will be following up on specific project ideas.

PDF Transforming the Caribbean Economy - New avenue for investment  (PDF, 45.4KB)

Tony Blair said:

'I think the most important thing, first of all, is to understand that these problems, which are the product in many ways of global changes, cannot be dealt with by any one government on its own. That is why I suggested that we had this Conference here in London, to try and bring people together and work out some common responses to the common challenge that is faced.'

Extracts from Owen Arthur, Prime Minister of Barbados:

'For history has bound us together in a relationship of kinship, a relationship that surely has been and will continue to be tested by the changing environments within which our respective development takes place, but which must be resilient enough and vital enough to bear the consequences of such change to our mutual advantage.'

Owen Arthur at the Transforming the Caribbean 
Economy conference, 2 Nov 2006.
Owen Arthur at the Transforming the Caribbean Economy conference, 2 Nov 2006.
'The age of preferences is now coming to an end. The dismantling of trade preferences and the diversion of concessional resources to regions where there are deemed to be more desperately needed have left the Caribbean starkly exposed. Our region has to make rapid and substantial structural adjustment, but to do so in the absence of an environment conducive to such adjustment and without the means of our own to fully support that transformations required of us.'

Lord Triesman chair of the event on 2 November 2006.