Some Caribbean governments continue to be delinquent in making payments to the Caribbean Export Development Agency.
However, Director General of the CARIFORUM Directorate, Percival Marie, has maintained that the agency is still on a sustainable growth path.
Addressing a farewell cocktail reception for outgoing Executive Director of Caribbean Export Pamela Coke-Hamilton, last Friday at the Mahogany Ridge, Marie said Coke-Hamilton’s tremendous work had left the agency in good stead.
“When Pamela Coke-Hamilton joined the Caribbean Export in 2010, there were questions about the agency itself. There were questions related to sustainability, there were questions related to the credibility of the agency and there were questions from some of our development partners as to whether they should continue to put grant resources through Caribbean Export. These questions were asked and have been answered,” Marie said.
In fact, he said those questions and many more had been answered.
“The answer is that she [Coke-Hamilton] has contributed significantly to the sustainability of the agency, notwithstanding the fact that some of our governments are delinquent in making their contributions. The answer is that she has built a professional organization capable of continuing to perform at a certain level of efficiency even upon her departure. That is what we mean by sustainability,” he added.
Marie opted not to give details as to which governments were delinquent in making their contributions or what those contributions were.
In her tribute Head of European Union Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Daniela Tramacere said she has been following the work of Coke-Hamilton closely since 2011.
“We have been with you when the others did not believe in you, since then we have seen you grow and we are very proud of what you are doing,” Tramacere said.
“If Caribbean Export has a real chance now to become an institution that is self sustainable it is because of you Pamela,” she added, while calling on Coke-Hamilton to continue to push the gender quality agenda.
“It is the best expression when women who are empowered in their life who are very pragmatic and very committed can make a real difference. I must say publicly that you are one of the not too many examples I have seen in the last years in the Caribbean. I am sure in your new functions you will push the agenda of gender promotion as well. This is high time that women, like in this country, get in power. No offense to the gentlemen of course,” said Tramacere.
Caribbean Export was established in 1996 by an inter-governmental agreement as the regional trade and investment promotion agency.
It currently serves 15 members of the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) – Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
Marie told those gathered that the agency, which is responsible for enhancing the competitiveness and value of Caribbean brands through export development and investment promotion, has been achieving its mandate despite doubts that persisted for sometime.
Attributing a large portion of the agency’s success to date to the hard work and dedication of Coke-Hamilton, Marie said her work ensured that residents, private sector businesses and governments benefited from various areas of trade and development arrangements she was responsible for.
Pointing out that her dedication had also led to growth in the credibility of the agency “to the point where international partners are seeking out Caribbean Export” Marie added that the region was “losing an asset but gaining an international advocate and friend”.
Coke-Hamilton will assume her new role as Director of International Trade on Goods, Commodities and Services at UNCTAD in Geneva, Switzerland at the end of August.
“It is unfortunate that she is leaving us at this time, when we are dealing with Brexit, when we are dealing with post-Cotonou and when the force of the economic partnership between ourselves and the EU have not really been realized. We continue to be challenged by those matters,” said Marie.
However, he acknowledged that the trade specialist was going to an institution where she could still be of help to the region’s export development efforts.(MM)