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Strategies to improve Caribbean trade performance examined at ECLAC meeting

14 November 2017|News

The expert group discussed the challenges that export-oriented countries are facing in order to capitalize on the market opportunities provided by Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs).

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) headquarters in Port of Spainrecentlybrought together decision makers from Belize, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago to examine the trade-related performance of Caribbean countries. 

he basis for discussion was the ECLAC study entitled “Monitoring trade agreements: Improving export performance and promoting industrialization in the goods-producing economies of the Caribbean”. The study highlighted that the exports of Belize, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago are concentrated towards few markets, most notably the United States and the European Union. In addition, the study also found that a relatively small number of products account for a substantial share of exports, and that these products can be categorized as either primary production (i.e. commodities) or production with little technological intensity. 

Against this backdrop, recognizing the need for producers to capture more value added in their product’s value chain, the meeting discussed the limitations that impede the ability of producers to diversify.

Specific challenges identified include limited access to finance, limited market information, high costs of entering markets, quality related issues, logistic bottlenecks, and access to raw materials. In order to address these issues, the meeting underscored the importance that trade-related and industrial policies designed to address bottlenecks, increase productivity and induce the requisite structural transformation are implemented.

In addition, in order for the private sector to be able to take full advantage of preferential market access opportunities furnished by the PTAs, meeting participants agreed on the need to ensure that the types of PTAs entered are driven by the private sector.