Archive for February 2014

Caribbean Trade with Europe: A Reflection on the Negotiating Process


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by Guest bloggers Christine V. Gomes and Mathias Mondino

photo by Jorge Merino, courtesy of the Council for the Americas
from left to right: Ambassador Bernal and 
Eric Farnsworth, Vice President, Americas Society/Council of the Americas

On February 6th, former Caribbean Executive Director for the Inter-American Development Bank, Ambassador Richard Bernal was hosted at the Council of the Americas to discuss Caribbean Trade negotiations with the European Union. During the event, Ambassador Bernal presented his recently released book about his experience leading the Forum of Caribbean States (CARIFORUM) in their historic multilateral trade agreement with the European Union (EU) in 2008.

Though trade and development agreements between the two regions have existed for over 30 years, this trade agreement has changed the dynamics of the relationship, promoting a more sustainable process of economic development by expanding coverage to include services.The CARIFORUM-EU Economics Partnership Agreement (EPA) is a WTO compatible unique trade agreement between a group of developed countries and a group of developing countries.

Caribbean economies have always been highly dependent on exports and import tariffs as a source of revenue, making them extremely vulnerable to the slightest price changes in the commodity markets. Ambassador Bernal and his team of negotiators understood these constraints on long-term economic growth, prompting them to support trade liberalization with developmental aid in order to assist CARIFORUM economies in the implementation of the agreement. > Read more

The Jamaica Chapter of the Caribbean Growth Forum Holds First Accountability Workshop – Progress on the Rise!


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by Karen Mahy, Desiree Mitchell and Juan Pedro Schmid

Feu vert, Place Saint-Job, Uccles, Bruxelles.

photo by Sébastien Santoro, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Jamaica Chapter of the Caribbean Growth Forum held its first accountability workshop on February 20, 2014. The Caribbean Growth Forum is organized in two phases. Phase 1 – focuses on identification and prioritization of concrete actions through a quick mobilization of actors and resources. Phase 2 – focuses on implementation by the governments, with the CGF facilitating the public accountability reporting through regular accountability workshops.

The Accountability Workshop is the centerpiece of transparency as it gives all stakeholders the opportunity to follow the implementation of the action plans for the 3 areas which the CGF targets reforms. A simplified traffic light system is used which shows progress and allows for transparency and accountability. Each action is reported on using either green, yellow, or red, depending on whether the action has been completed within the targeted timeframe, is in progress, or has not met all the targets during the review period, respectively (white is only used when no action was required during the period preceding the accountability workshop). This ‘dashboard’ is a public mechanism that allows all stakeholders – public and private – to easily track progress and recognize areas that require more attention. > Read more

Serious About Growth- Livestream


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The National Competitiveness Council and the Caribbean Growth Forum Join Forces to Improve the Business Climate in Jamaica


by Juan Pedro Schmid

In spite of its beauty, strategic location and creative population, Jamaica is lagging competitor countries in the ease of doing business climate. The IDB’s Caribbean Econ Team recently published a policy brief that provides more information.

On February 20, 2014, the Government of Jamaica is hosting NCC Business Environment Reform Roundtable. During this event, the NCC Secretariat will present the key reforms for the period 2014-2016 as well as its priorities for 2014. The Secretariat will also give an overview of the Doing Business Report Methodology. > Read more

Eco-friendly tourism in Rupununi, Guyana


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by Louise Armstrong


Photograph of Surama Eco-Lodge, Surama, Guyana. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A cluster of eco-lodges in the North Rupununi of Guyana have been consciously developing themselves over the years into an innovative and eco-friendly experiential tourism model that provides opportunities for men and women from 16 Amerindian communities. These eco-lodges are Rewa, Surama, and Karanambu.

One of the challenges they have been seeking to address is the lack of opportunities for viable and legal livelihoods, particularly for men, within the interior of Guyana. The area has seen a trend of men migrating out of their communities, whether temporarily or permanently, which is highly disruptive to their families and communities.

This cluster created the concept of a single Rupununi experience for travelers that would be underpinned by the specialty offerings of the lodges, and in that way offer increased opportunities for men to earn income and stay at home. > Read more

Can a symphonic strategy make for better government?


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by Wilshire Bethel

Bahamas Parliament building
by Matt H. Wade, photo couresy of  Wikimedia Commons

A strong and well-coordinated Center of Government (CoG) is of unquestionable importance in the development of a nation. The veritable nucleus of the state, the Center of Government is the conductor that raises the melody to which all line ministries march.  It masterminds the ultimate development goals and ensures that these various ministries, each with separate interests and responsibilities are moving in harmony towards a common goal.

As noted by ICS division Specialists in a recent Technical Note on Centers of Government (IDB-TN-591) it is important to remember that “CoG institutions are not directly involved in service delivery and do not focus on a particular policy area but, rather, deal with the strategic management, coordination, monitoring, overall improvement, and communication of government action.” It should be further noted that many of the issues faced by governments in the region are, ministerially speaking, crosscutting or “horizontal” and cannot be adequately solved by “vertical” action or action by one ministry alone. Given this backdrop, the case for investing in a stronger and more proactive Center of Governance becomes clear. > Read more

Tourism – A Post Card from the Caribbean


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by Chrystol Thomas


Sand + sea + sun = fun. When people hear the word “Caribbean”, it evokes images of cool breezes, swaying palm or coconut trees, crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches. I bet you are imagining yourself right now baking in the sun working on your tan, swimming in pristine, turquoise blue waters or sipping on a chilled glass of rum punch under the shade of a leafy, green palm tree. Traditionally, the Caribbean has been known for these elements – in short, an escape to paradise.

The high demand for such destinations has seen many Caribbean countries placing heavy dependency on the tourism industry as the primary driver for economic growth and development. Thanks mainly to visitors from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and CARICOM, total tourism value added is on average 36 percent of GDP for tourism-oriented countries such as Barbados, The Bahamas, Belize, Jamaica, and the OECS member countries. > Read more

Rewiring primary education in Suriname


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by Ronald Jubitana


ICT in Education the Surinamese way. Photographer – Myrthe Lionarons, UNICEF

ICT in education is gaining prominence in the Caribbean with the one device per child or family concepts. But what really is ICT in education? Is it the provision of a technology device without educational content? Or is it a technology-integrated method for teaching and learning? Suriname’s government is taking the latter definition quite seriously.

> Read more

Macroeconomic Challenges for Barbados


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by Chrystol Thomas


Photo by Keith Pomakis courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Barbados’ economy is faced with numerous macroeconomic challenges. During the period 2009 to 2013, the economy cumulatively contracted by 0.5 percent. This economic reduction is estimated by the IMF to continue for this year due partly to declining competitiveness especially in the tourism sector. This makes Barbados the only CARICOM country with negative growth for 2014. The negative growth is reflected in the poor performance of the main foreign exchange earning sectors and the below-average inflow of private foreign investment. Both of which have contributed significantly to the drop in international reserves and a deterioration of the external current account balance. Government’s fiscal deficit has worsened and is calculated to be near double digits while the debt levels grew on average 7.7% per annum in the past 5 years.

In response, the government has announced numerous revenue and expenditure measures, among them a new fiscal consolidation tax, a reduction of the public sector by 3000 persons, and a review of public enterprises to promote greater efficiency. The measures were estimated to cumulatively generate over US$250 million in savings. Ceteris paribus, the lay-offs could see the unemployment rate rising to near 14 percent, 3 percent higher than the latest available data (June 2013). There are also the possible social implications (such as crime and poverty) that would need to be factored in as well. > Read more

The Book of Promises: Experiencing the third Haiti Ghetto Biennale


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By Guest blogger, Marielle Barrow


photo by Marielle Barrow. Making paper with children of the Grand Rue at the site of the Haiti Ghetto Biennale.

A Biennale is an international art fair- an art marketplace involving the highest-level players, with a global history, beginning with the Venice Biennale. The Haiti Ghetto Biennale is in some ways a contradiction of this format that simultaneously capitalizes on it- it takes place at ground level in a ghetto in Haiti, where non-academically trained artists ply their crafts opening them to a global market in an attempt to by-pass the exploitative intermediary and other systemic oppressions. > Read more

Doing Business in the Third Coolest Nation in the World


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by Juan Pedro Schmid

Jamaica – Cool People, Chilly Business Climate

The CNN recently published a list of the 10 coolest nationalities, ranking Jamaicans in the third spot (behind Brazilians and Singaporeans but before Mongolians). Regrettably, Jamaica does not always rank so high, especially not when it concerns the economy or doing business.

It is well known that Jamaica does poorly in the World Bank’s Doing Business report, being ranked 94th out of 189 countries. Jamaica ranks best for starting a business (23rd) and resolving insolvency (31st) and worst for paying taxes (168th).

There is another business climate related survey, the Enterprise Survey, which was done in Jamaica by the Compete Caribbean in 2010. While the Doing Business Survey ranks according to measured cost, time or effort to do typical, business related tasks, the enterprise survey directly interviews managers of formal companies about several issues related to the operations of their businesses. The questions that receive most attention are whether specific factors are an obstacle to the firm’s operation (ranked from no obstacle, a minor obstacle, moderate obstacle, major obstacle, or a very severe obstacle), and which of these factors they considered to be the biggest obstacle. Using this survey, we recently explored what Jamaican enterprises had to say about the Jamaican business climate. > Read more

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The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inter-American Development Bank, its Management, its Board of Executive Directors or its member Governments.

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