PR – Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr. the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell is encouraging the creation of new business partnerships as part of the region’s response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing members of the regional private sector during the Virtual Caribbean Business Forum on Wednesday, Dr. Mitchell said these partnerships should help to cultivate a spirit of entrepreneurship in members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Noting that trade is vitally important to the survival of regional countries, Dr. Mitchell acknowledged the many challenges brought about by the pandemic and affirmed that in every sector, there are “unprecedented opportunities”.
The Grenadian leader said, “These challenges carry the seeds of great opportunity and we are particularly pleased with this chance to exchange views and brainstorm on concrete measures and initiatives that we can undertake together to help us all be more resilient, less dependent on externalities and shape a new model of collective prosperity.”
Offering further words of encouragement to the participants in the online forum, Dr. Mitchell said, “Let us identify the many windows that the pandemic has opened for us to do things differently, to do things better, using the foundations that already exist to build the architecture of the New Normal. We know that in the spaces created by the global economic pause, we can and must rapidly create a more dynamic, self-reliant Caribbean market place.”
According to Dr. Mitchell, “The OECS Authority is keen to seen an explosion of trade between the OECS and the wider Caribbean, starting with Trinidad and Tobago.” He highlighted linkages among regional ferry services and agricultural producers and innovative approaches to financing micro, small and medium sized enterprises as examples of partnership possibilities.
The Prime Minister also noted that, “Regional integration as an enabler of reciprocity in relations and the aggregation of opportunity in niche CARICOM and hemispheric spaces, is essential for our sustainability.”
Dr. Mitchell lamented the fact that regional trade has not been optimised. He said, “We seem to prefer patronising other people’s business in the global village instead of strengthening and consolidating the wealth of our islands, through stronger business ties among each other and interacting with the global village from a position of consolidated strength. Why do we see nothing wrong with importing food and goods from all around the globe, but express objection and erect barriers to buying from our own? Sisters and brothers, something is fundamentally wrong with that approach.”
Notwithstanding the existing challenges, the Prime Minister sees many opportunities in the new normal. He identified some of these as the reconfiguration of trading relationships by accelerating efforts to address impediment to integration; developing greater reciprocity of relations and actions; securing the foundation that exists through building blocks such as the Caribbean Court of Justice and consolidating the eco-system of policies, regulations and protocols that facilitate trade and business.
The Caribbean Business Forum was organised by the Global Business Leadership Forum and the Confederation of Regional Business Chambers in collaboration with the OECS Commission.