Integration key to economic succces, says CDB president

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Integration key to economic succces, says CDB president

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica— President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr Wm Warren Smith, at today's 50th Annual Meeting of the Bank's Board of Governors stressed the importance of regional integration to the economic development of the region.

The full potential of the regional integration project, he argued, would allow regional firms access to a larger protected market in which they could grow, and which would serve as a launching pad to the global market.

“I share the view of the Bruce Golding-led commission that the value of regional integration, notwithstanding the current wave of economic nationalism in various parts of the world, is as relevant and useful, and perhaps more urgent today than it was at inception,” said Smith.

The commission to which he referred is the Caricom/Cariforum Review Commission of 2017 which was chaired by former Jamaica Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

“I believe that the full potential of the integration movement has been limited by significant non-tariff barriers to trade; a lack of harmonised investment codes, tax incentives, and macroeconomic policies; and restrictions on capital mobility,” Smith said.

Pointing out that more than half of the actions agreed in the 2001 roadmap to a single market and economy still need to be implemented, Smith posited that broad economic success and sustainable advances in standards of living also hinge on export expansion particularly in small Caribbean economies with no reserve currencies.

As such, the CDB president argued that Caribbean countries need to find a way to get the private sector to assume its place as the ultimate generator of jobs, incomes, and exports. In order to make this happen, the public sector needs to pay much more attention to creating an ecosystem that includes climate-friendly infrastructure, a healthy and skilled labour force, enabling legislative and regulatory frameworks, enabling culture, and access to appropriate types of finance, he said.

“A diversified production structure helps to build economic resilience, making economies less susceptible to price and output fluctuations. Such a diversified structure also leads to low cost, productive and competitive economies,” said Smith.

The CDB works with 28 member countries, not all of which are located in the region, to reduce poverty and promote social and economic growth in the Caribbean.

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