Investment promotion agencies across the region are being urged to strive for greater effectiveness in the delivery of investment facilitation services so as to attract and retain foreign direct investment (FDI).
The call came from Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, as he addressed the opening of the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA) training workshop on Wednesday, April 17, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
According to the Minister, effective investment facilitation “is often what differentiates the most successful FDI locations in the world from the rest of the field.”
He noted that supporting FDI requires having relevant, up-to-date and accurate information, which must be presented to investors in a fast and efficient way.
“At the core of any sound investment facilitation strategy is an unwavering dedication to dealing with enquiries and applications quickly and equitably,” Mr. Hylton stated.
FDI represents a key engine for sustained economic development. Inflows to Caribbean economies have helped to stimulate growth through the injection of additional capital, job creation and the transfer of knowledge and technology.
Minister Hylton stated that countries around the globe are competing fiercely for FDIs as the world seeks to recover from the global recession and the continued economic uncertainty in Europe and the United States.
The Foreign Direct Investment Confident Index showed that FDI flows picked up in the last two years as investors cautiously re-entered the markets.
Jamaica was among the Caribbean islands benefiting from this slight pickup in FDI, registering a 5.8 per cent increase from US$228 million in 2010 to US$242 million in 2011. However, the region, on a whole, witnessed a decline of 3.6 per cent, falling, from US$70.1 billion to US$67.6 billion in foreign investments.
Minister Hylton expressed the hope that the comprehensive training and capacity building exercises provide by the CAIPA will serve to place the region firmly on the path towards greater success in attracting FDI.
“The future challenges are clear. But I am confident that the Caribbean can leverage its resources and its opportunities in positioning itself as a premier destination for the ambitions, ideas, innovations and foreign investments. I believe that we will be able to deliver world-class facilitation and services that will contribute to converting the initial interest of investors into solid investment,” he added.
The three-day workshopaims to enhance the facilitation capabilities of investment promotion agencies across the region, by upgrading skills and systems.It will provide participants with the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of investor requirements, enquiry handling, the provision of information and web-based facilitation.
Launched in Jamaica on November 20, 2007, CAIPA is an umbrella organisation established to facilitate the collaboration of regional investment promotion agencies (IPAs) in order to attract greater FDIs to the region.
Membership of CAIPA is open to all CARIFORUM Member states as well as the Dutch OCTs, French DOMS, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands and Cuba.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter