LatinFinance held its
2nd Caribbean Finance and Investment Forum
in Montego Bay, Jamaica this November 17, having relaunched the forum in Trinidad and Tobago last year after a hiatus of several years. The renewal of the forum in 2017 was testament to the improved promise the region holds for economic development and investment, both regional and international.
Growth across the Caribbean region has picked up in recent years, supporting the view that the region has finally turned the corner. But while prospects are improving, in particular for Jamaica, markets are mindful of the challenges ahead more broadly for the region, given numerous sources of vulnerability and volatility at home – and a global environment that is ever more uncertain.
The forum was host to an exciting program of discussions, designed to focus in more detail on both the challenges and the opportunities facing finance, trade and investment in the region. Among many other prominent participants, the forum drew such speakers as Jamaica’s Minister of Finance, Hon. Audley Shaw, and its Central Bank Governor, Brian Wynter.
The conference explored the Caribbean’s Financial Markets Infrastructure – what it should look like, how it needs to be developed and how ideally it should function. It also explored whether and to what extent regional integration is a prerequisite for building a more robust financial markets in the region – and whether that goal is today any more feasible or desirable than it ever was. Discussion also examined the momentum for deepening such intra-regional links at a time when the broader region is still emerging from the aftermath of the global financial crisis – hit, as it was, especially hard due to its reliance on the United States for foreign direct investment, trade and tourism revenues.
In this context, steps towards boosting regional self-sufficiency is widely seen as key to sustainable economic growth in the Caribbean. Of course despite progress in recent years, many Caribbean economies are still laboring under high debt-to-GDP ratios; limited access to international capital markets; poor terms of trade; budget and balance of trade deficits; high costs of food imports and so on. The forum’s panel discussions took aim at these issues as well.
But the entire picture is overshadowed by events to the north – and specifically the political and macro risks now emanating from the United States, following the shock election of Donald Trump as president last week…and fears that a series of campaign pledges, if implemented, could at the very least create chaos in global markets, if not overturn the global order. Whatever the longer term prognosis, prospects for the region had begun to improve given a US economy that has been gathering strength. So a degree of optimism had returned to the region, with Jamaica in many ways leading the charge. But for the region as a whole to prosper, collaborative projects will be needed to lift its collective fortunes – and the reality on that score is far more complicated, given the vast challenges at the macro and micro levels across the region.
Ultimately, the event explored the drivers of this and other moves towards regionalization, investigated what the end goal actually is and – of course – what it’s likely to mean for boosting long-term productive investment in the region.
November 17, 2016
8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
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