How Export Competitive is the Caribbean?

A new initiative to measure the Export Competitiveness of CARIFORUM is being spearheaded by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) it was announced yesterday at the opening of the first workshop on the conceptualisation of an Export Competitiveness Index Model for CARIFORUM.

Gathered at the Agency headquarters in Warrens, Barbados – representatives from across the region will develop a comprehensive system to measure and monitor the competitiveness of exports from the regions private sector.

“It is our vision that by developing the ECI, decision makers in CARIFORUM States will be better able to understand the competitiveness of their exports, make the necessary adjustments to the types of business support services provided to exporters, amend national export strategies, and ultimately revise regulations and policies to improve the overall business environment for exporters, redounding to the benefit of SMEs” expressed Executive Director of the Agency, Pamela Coke Hamilton.
Over the next six years the European Union has pledged to provide €102 million towards regional economic cooperation and integration, HE Amb Mikael Barfod indicated to the audience, much of which is said to be earmarked for private sector development.   “A Regional Export Competitiveness Index or ECI will provide a sound empirical framework to measure and monitor the competitiveness of exports from the Caribbean region and most importantly guide the future development of mitigating actions and measures” he stated whilst divulging that the EU was enthused by the introduction of an ECI in view of their efforts over the past two years “in enhancing the ability of the regional private sector to produce and sell goods and services at prices and quality that ensure long term viability and sustainability.”

Thus it is makes it critical to know how well the Caribbean’s private sector stacks up against the rest of the world in the provision of goods and services.  Senator the Honourable Darcy Boyce, stressed that “If our economies are to overcome the low economic growth performance we have experienced in recent years, our export earning sectors must grow to earn the necessary foreign exchange to handle such growth”.  The Senator went on to say that “we therefore need to manage our export competitiveness and to do so, we need to know what our competitive edge is, how great that edge is, whether we are gaining or losing ground in that edge and whether we are making the best use of that edge”.

The workshop will conclude today and it is anticipated that the team will have identified the main criteria for the indices to move forward.  The salient aspect however will be collection of the data required, in view of the poor history in effective data capture.