Wed | May 22, 2019

Elizabeth Morgan | CARICHAM: Strengthening the regional private sector

Published:Wednesday | April 24, 2019 | 12:20 AM

In my article on the role of Jamaica’s and the Caribbean’s private sector in international trade published in February, I pointed to the need for the regional private sector to be strengthened and to be more engaged in promoting intra-regional and international trade between the region and third countries. The private sector in the region needs to be a stronger partner with government and be engaged in trade policy formulation, given its role as the trade operators.

I was pleased to read in the newspapers earlier this month that 16 chambers of commerce from 15 Caribbean countries/territories, including Cuba and Martinique, met in Barbados, April 1-2, and formed the Caribbean Network of Chambers of Commerce (CARICHAM). It seems that other regional chambers are interested in joining.

I posted this information on my social-media platform and it has been received with great interest and enthusiasm. So many persons are encouraged by the establishment of CARICHAM and are hoping that it will work to the benefit of the Caribbean and regional integration.

CARICHAM now means that there is another regional private-sector body which could represent the region in CARICOM at the Council for Trade and Economic Development and at the Caribbean Forum of ACP States (CARIFORUM) through the consultative committee of the CARIFORUM/EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

CARICHAM joins the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC), and the product specific organisations, the West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers Association, the Sugar Association of the Caribbean and the Caribbean Poultry Association as well as the Caribbean Tourism Organization as regional private sector representatives.

COLLABORATE WITH PRIVATE SECTOR

I also noted that CAIC has welcomed CARICHAM and wants to see the two bodies cooperating to make progress in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). You will recall from my previous articles that trade is a critical means of implementing the UN SDGs. CAIC also wants to collaborate in dispute resolution, disaster risk reduction and climate change, and trade in services, among other trade and trade related issues.

I would like to see CARICHAM and the CAIC collaborating, not only to improve intra-regional trade, but to also improve trade between the region and third countries. There is already the opportunity to participate in the second review of the CARIFORUM/EU EPA; to strengthen trade with the EU27 and with the UK; and to join in lobbying for the extension of the US Caribbean Basin Initiative through the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act and the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act.

I would also want CARICHAM to collaborate with other private-sector organisations and institutions, such as The University of the West Indies, in capacity-building, that is, to educate members of the regional private sector about global and regional trade rules and other trade policy issues.

I join in welcoming the establishment of CARICHAM and in wishing them all success going forward.

I, however, do have to enquire about the status of the Caribbean Business Council, which should have been established in 2005 and to which there was a renewed commitment in 2017.

Elizabeth Morgan is a specialist in international trade policy and international politics. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com