UWI gets US embassy grants to help boost regional trade research

The University of the West Indies on Tuesday signed off on a series of grants from the United States Embassy here that are geared towards supporting the region’s economic prospects.

US Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS, Linda Taglialatela, said roughly $130,000 (US$65,000) was being given to UWI in order to strengthen the trade and investment opportunities within the region.

She said: “The United States is making a commitment of US $50,000 ($100,000) to the Shridath Ramphal Centre. This education initiative entitled Revitalizing the U.S – Caribbean Trade and Investment Agenda will bring our institutional collaboration to a new level. Through a series of workshops, research, and student-centred partnerships, we will unlock new possibilities for trade and investment among the United States, Barbados, and the wider Caribbean.

“Secondly, the embassy is making a commitment of nearly US$15,000 ($30,000) to Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business and Management. This investment will support the new Caribbean Micro Small Medium Enterprise Center at the school.”

The principal of UWI Cave Hill, Professor Clive Landis, thanked Ambassador Taglialatela and the embassy for supporting the campus’ trade research initiatives. Given the unfortunate effects Caribbean trade markets have experienced over the many years whenever there is financial worry in either the US or European countries, he said, regional research into more flexible strategies to help bolster our economies is desperately needed.

Professor Landis said: “At this juncture, and against the background of a global pandemic in which all trade paradigms and just in time supply lines are being strained, dare I say broken, I firmly believe that the Shridath Ramphal Centre with its research and training mandate and abundance of expertise is well-positioned to help shape a positive landscape for US and Caribbean trade to flourish.

“More than ever, we recognize the importance of renewing our common efforts to build resilient economies, by guiding access to export markets for our goods and services.”

First introduced by the Ronald Reagan administration, the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA), the American law that governs the 38-year-old Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), seeks to facilitate the region’s duty-free access to the US market for most goods.

Shridath Ramphal Centre Dr Jan Yves Remy said it was now time to re-evaluate the state of trade in the region, citing declining export earnings in several Caribbean nations over the last few years.

She said: “The United States imports from CBERA countries fell from US $6.1 billion in 2018, to $5.6 billion in 2019, $5.0 billion in 2020, which are declines of 8.2 and 10.7 per cent respectively. A silver lining is that some beneficiary countries like Barbados however saw increases in their utilization rates between preferences, therefore, there is hope for even greater growth not only in the utilization of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) benefits and diversification of exports but in enhanced leveraging of the United States trade and investment trade work agreement.” (SB)

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