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KINGSTON — State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Michael Stern, says the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean grew by six per cent during 2010, despite the impact of the global economic recession.

Speaking at the Mona School of Business (MSB) second annual roundtable discussion at the University of the West Indies (UWI), on June 16, Mr. Stern said the growth recorded was indicative of the “unprecedented resilience” with which nations in both regions have weathered the recession, adding that a number of countries have “emerged from it sooner and, perhaps, stronger than originally anticipated."

The State Minister said over the last two years, the financial crisis had resulted in a contraction of the international investment community and a “dampening” of international trade. He, however, pointed to a “gradual upward trend” in economic recovery occurring over the last eight months, adding that the global business community has been “responding positively."

“Many of these countries have implemented fiscal and economic reforms, as part of efforts to help them emerge from this economic crisis. They are also exercising macro-economic prudence and have instituted measures to effectively supervise their financial systems. Here, in Jamaica, we have passed much legislation to effect this action,” he informed.

Consequent on this, Mr. Stern said Latin America and Caribbean economies grew by six per cent in 2010, with a report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) projecting that these are expected to grow a further four per cent this year. This, he argued, “is clear that the region has done well, considering the global crisis from which it is recovering."

The State Minister said that despite this, ECLAC has indicated that Latin American and Caribbean nations face a number of structural challenges, including “significant lags” in technology innovation and competitiveness.

In this regard, he contended that for CARICOM nations to successfully counter the current economic and development challenges, they must position themselves to take advantage of opportunities inherent in other nations, that indicate a gradual revival from the recession.

“Natural disasters, such as Japan’s massive earthquake and tsunami, as well as a range of other occurrences, will no doubt, temper the extent of the recovery we all hope for. As a region, we must create our opportunities for growth by actively pursuing diverse economic partnerships and innovative approaches, to leverage competitive advantages in the region. As CARICOM countries re-double efforts to emerge from the global economic slowdown, we must resolve to achieve, not just sustainability, but indeed, economic prosperity,” he argued.

Mr. Stern asserted that apart from growth opportunities presented by trade and business opportunities, the region’s private sector must explore prospects generated by new and improved technologies, to upgrade production processes and increase productivity, and re-position organisations for long-term success.

“If we are to set ourselves firmly on a path to growth and development, our efforts must not be confined to the management of our financial affairs and how we manage ourselves, as a people. Rather, it should involve the broad engagement of both the private and public sectors, so that business and industry can re-tool for improved efficiency in order to take advantage of opportunities to expand markets, increase export earnings, and create more jobs,” the State Minister said.

The  event, which  was held under the theme: ‘Organisational Renewal: From Recession to Recovery and Growth’, brought together chief executive officers and senior managers in the private and public sectors,  who discussed critical issues  affecting their entities, and the economy, in general, with view to finding mutually beneficial solutions.

 

By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter