Reprinted from Caribbean Net News
|Barbados minister calls for increased economic co-operation in the region|
|Published on Wednesday, February 4, 2009|
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica (JIS): Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, Senator Maxine McClean, has urged Caribbean countries to increase economic co-operation to cushion the effects of the global financial collapse and economic downturn.
"If there was ever a time in the history of the region when there was need for the further deepening of economic co-operation, the time is now," Senator McClean said.
"Even the most optimistic of us recognise that, as the recession," deepens in the major markets of the developed world, Caribbean economies too will experience recession," she added.
McClean said that, as a resilient people, Caribbean nationals could not accept being mere observers to the world crisis, or willing victims of the international meltdown.
She said that the approach should be to recognise the uniqueness of each country, while acknowledging that none of them could go it alone.
"Clearly, there is no room for complacency on the part of economic actors. We therefore have to anticipate the worse and work to realize a lesser impact. Consumers need to consume, employers need to focus on efficiencies before layoffs, employees need to boost productivity and, above all, investment need to continue. We need to educate the public about the benefits of investing and most importantly the difference between saving and investing," she advised.
She reiterated that the way forward was to invest, produce and consume.
"We all know that we are small, vulnerable, open economies which depend heavily on the more developed countries for foreign exchange. We know that this is critical to our economic growth and development. However, so far we have not taken full advantage of opportunities thrown up within the region. That is, its resources, people, commodities and markets, for example. We also have to put our national houses in order, as we seek to build regionally," the Barbados Senator noted.
She also appealed to the region's private sector to play an aggressive role in the process.
"Regional co-operation cannot be driven only by the Heads of Government of CARICOM, or by the decisions made at meetings. The region's private sector must be an aggressive force behind the movement towards regional co-operation and collaboration," she said.
It is vital that the Captains of Industry and Commerce engage in meaningful dialogue to strategise about ways to maximise the use of the region's resources, in an effort to increase consumption of its goods and services while building competitiveness in the global arena, she stated.
One of the main objectives of the four-day conference was to assist in the creation of partnerships and improve understanding between financial institutions, to allow for the generation of investment opportunities.
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