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CEOs see new investment opportunities in Caribbean

Published:Monday | May 21, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Caribbean and Central American business leaders, meeting behind closed doors last week in Trinidad, have identified new opportunities for investment and partnerships in the Caribbean, its organiser, the Organisation of American States (OAS) said Thursday.

Convened by OAS assistant secretary general Albert Ramdin and hosted by Trindad & Tobagos Minister of Trade and Industry Stephen Cadiz, the Port-of-Spain meeting also identified obstacles to business, including transnational business registration laws, visa restrictions, port congestion problems, taxes, duties and tariffs.

Taking part in the meetings were representatives of top conglomerates, public and private companies, and government representatives, including the secretaries general of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Association of Caribbean States and the Central American Integration System.

The gathering, which the OAS said represented billions of dollars in business interests from both regions, was also addressed by Panamas President Ricardo Martinelli.

This gathering proves that investment capital is available, so options and opportunities must be generated, Cadiz said.

We are, therefore, making a solid commitment to working together to overcome these challenges to business, he added. We need to do more and smarter business in this current global economic environment."

Ramdin said the vision behind the meeting is to use international trade and business diplomacy to "generate more opportunities for employment, increase earning potential, economic growth, alleviate poverty, and improve security.

"If we hope to improve the quality of life for citizens of both regions, we need to be practical and proactive, he added.

Central America and the Caribbean face similar challenges. If businesses succeed in these regions, it means a better standard of life for people, Ramdin continued.

Alberto Alemán Zubieta, CEO of the Panama Canal Authority also attended the meeting, which follows up on a meeting of CEOS from both regions in El Salvador last year that resulted in the strengthening of business partnerships and new investments, the OAS said.

It said the Port-of-Spain meeting is expected to result in more strategic investments.

Guatemala has invited Ramdin to host the next meeting in that country, the OAS said.