Belize Prime Minister speaks at NY Conference on the Caribbean

In the end of June, Dean Barrow, the Prime Minister of Belize, spoke at a New York conference on the Caribbean 2008. At the conference, Barrow spoke on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

The speech by Barrow was focused on the issues of trade and investment.

According to him, “the rapidly changing and increasingly competitive global economy” has forced the CARICOM countries to revisit their strategies in order to secure the sustainable development. He stressed that the countries of the Caribbean Community are now can no longer rely on one-way preferential access for exports to traditional markets as now they are also recipients of “declining volumes of official development assistance and face stiff competition as destinations for foreign direct investment”.

He stated that the transformation of the regional economy into a single economic space is aimed at facilitating the free movement of people, capital, goods and services as well as the right of establishment. He also expressed the idea that fostering greater intra-regional trade should go hand-in-hand with some kind of the critical mass needed to make CARICOM countries more attractive to third countries.

Barrow said that the United States is the most important trading partner of the region. In 2007, CARICOM’s merchandise exports to the US were recorded at approximately USD 9 billion, and an average annual growth rate was 17.6% during the period 2003-2007. To compare the US with other partners, Barrow indicated that CARICOM exports to the European Union and Canada were in 2007 approximately USD 3.2 billion and USD 1.3 billion, respectively.

As the conclusion, the Belizean Prime Minister said the following: “Economic growth, availability of jobs, a higher standard of living and increased purchasing power would translate into a higher demand for imports from the United States. It also consolidates a sphere of stability along your third border, and it promotes a secure environment for the thousands of American visitors that travel to the Caribbean every year.”

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