A regional expert in trade facilitation is advising the Caribbean to form closer linkages with “other like-minded countries” in order to help chart a new development course.
Patricia Francis, the chairman of Jamaica’s trade facilitation task force, told the launch of a programme aimed at helping women export their products and services that developments around the world, including Brexit and the nativist agenda of the United States president Donald Trump, would make it more difficult for small states to engage in global trade.
Therefore, she said, “it has become critical for us to identify those groupings that really share our values and ethos over the long-term if there is to be any hope of achieving the 2030 agenda and delivering on the sustainable development goals”.
“The marginalization of the multilateral process results in a lack of predictability and ultimately has a negative impact on investment, trade and development. The resulting protectionist behaviour of states looking out for their own interest results in developing countries, and small island developing states in particular, having little opportunity to vent their issues on the global stage,” Francis told those gathered at the Hilton Barbados Resort for the launch of Women Empowered Through Export, an initiative of the Caribbean Export Development Agency.
Francis had been part of an eminent persons group tasked with reviewing the future of the relationship between the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) grouping and the European Union (EU).
With Britain’s impending divorce from the EU creating uncertainty among the authorities in the Caribbean, the Jamaican trade expert said the time had come for the region get together and determine what the new partnership with a post Brexit Europe would look like.
“There is no doubt that the time has come for the Caribbean to stop being so inward looking and to recognize that inclusive growth and prosperity will have to come from our own efforts in global and regional markets. No one is going to hand prosperity to us on a platter,” she stressed.
She recommended several objectives that should be at the centre of “the renewed political and development partnership with Caribbean countries”, including “decent” human security, democracy, the rule of law, good governance and human rights, regional integration, inclusive sustainable growth, trade and job creation, human development, climate change and sustainable management and natural resources.