Caribbean Export identifies market opportunities
Caribbean Export Development Agency says exports from the Cariforum region are still concentrated in a few products and markets.
Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton also notes that linkages to global value chains are weak.
Coke-Hamilton, who visited Jamaica in December, has authored a paper, "Making the Grade: An Examination of the Region's Export Performance" - which proposes that exporters move urgently to look at opportunities for diversification.
Among the prime areas of opportunity, she names the wood furniture sector, which is currently the largest low-tech sector globally and estimated to have reached US$117 billion in 2012. EU annual consumption is estimated at more than €40 billion.
Other potential areas of growth and diversification are financial services - and renewable energy - projected at US$6.4 trillion global market of which an estimated US$1.6 trillion is available to SMEs - agro-products, articles of jewellery, paintings, leather footwear, cigars, cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, and cocoa beans.
Cariforum countries researched by Caribbean Export include Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname, St Lucia, St Kitts-Nevis, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago.
The region is also suffering from a constrained ability to supply top products/sectors demanded by external markets, even while many agro-processed products don't yet meet global food-safety requirements, Coke-Hamilton said.
The export head noted that top products demanded by Algeria, South Africa, Nigeria, Angola, and Egypt are sugar, soya bean oil, non-alcoholic beverages, jewellery, tiles, and perfumes
Top products required by Germany, France, United Kingdom, and Italy include bread, biscuits and wafers, chocolates, juices, jewellery, handbags, metal and wooden furniture, hot sauces, and wines, while those most in demand by Chile, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama are alcoholic beverages, bread biscuits, and wafers, fruits, perfumes, and wooden and metal furniture.
Top products demanded by the United States and Canada are hot sauces, wines, bread biscuits and wafers, fruits, perfumes, and wooden and metal furniture; and in China, South Korea, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Singapore, the demand is for sugar, bread, biscuits, and wafers, wines, leather, handbags, tiles, and perfumes.