Transportation among small island developing states is still one of the biggest issues with regard to sustainable businesses and development.
This observation was made by Flavian Cherry of the St. Lucia Industrial and Small Business Association, during a high level meeting on Fostering Private Sector Partnerships for SIDS, during the just concluded preparatory Small Island Developing States Conference at Hilton Barbados.
The private sector, she noted was considered the engine of growth in small island developing states, adding that it was also more exposed and responsive to market dynamics that contributed to the flexibility of any economy.
“Many of our small states are facing vulnerability because of their inherent and permanent features which render them exposed to economic forces beyond their control. Issues of climate change and natural disasters are permanent, but some of those features are also our high dependence on international trade, which makes our small states susceptible to exogenous economic conditions.
“Another characteristic of small states is our dependence on a narrow range of exports and on strategic imports,” she said, adding that these and other factors tended to result in higher per unit costs which in turn erode the external competitiveness of these small states.
As globalisation has brought more challenges and greater exposure to economic shocks, Cherry said it was therefore more important for SIDS to implement “appropriate policies to reduce those enhanced risks and transform the challenges we face into opportunities”.
She pointed to women in business as an area that needed increased focus as they comprised a large percentage of small and micro enterprises. Challenges to them, she noted, could lead to more social dislocation in the care and other areas of the economy.
“Challenges related to transport and its link to SIDS are serious issues for the small, medium and micro enterprise sector in the region. Every time we meet regionally, the issue is always transport, transport, transport. Just imagine that goods coming from St. Lucia which is very close to Dominica and Grenada, have to be transported by air, or sent to Miami before it reaches back into the Caribbean.
“So transport is a very serious issue that we as small, medium and micro-enterprises continue to hammer home to our leaders as very necessary to economic growth in the Caribbean,” said Cherry, adding that ICTs and the service industry were other areas needing attention. (LB)