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KINGSTON — State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Michael Stern, says Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states must enhance inter-regional trade, if they are to collectively address the decline in economic activity consequent on the global economic depression.

Speaking at the Mona School of Business’ (MSB) second annual Roundtable dialogue at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge and Conference Centre, University of the West Indies (UWI) campus on Thursday (June 16), Mr. Stern cited, as an example, the “noticeable” decline in trade with one of the region’s main trading partners, the United States.

He said a report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) indicated that while the region still accounts for one fifth of trade with the North American nation, “there has been a marked reduction over the last decade”.

“The United States’ share of the region’s imports dropped from 55 per cent in 2000, to 32 per cent in 2009. And, as a market for the region’s exports of goods and services, the United States’ share fell from 61 per cent to 42 per cent during the same period,” the State Minister outlined.

He pointed out that having being confronted with internal economic challenges, developed nations, like the United States, have moved to significantly reduce trade with the Caribbean, and stressed the need for the region to address this development, post-haste.

“The reality is that we must explore new avenues to grow our economies in full recognition that we are operating in a changed environment. Heightened competition and tighter credit restrictions are but two of the imperatives our region must confront, as we seek to kick-start our economies. We must identify new paths to enhance trade and investment within CARICOM and to address the decline in trade and investment with the rest of the world,” Mr. Stern underscored.

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

 

By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter