On 27-28 November 2012, the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA), in collaboration with Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export), the CAIPA Secretariat, hosted the 2nd Annual General Assembly Conference of CAIPA in the Bahamas. The 2 day event entitled: “Strengthening our Foundation, Expanding our Reach” was geared towards the advancement of the regional integration movement; facilitating the networking of its members; engendering an exchange of information on regional best practices; developing the CAIPA work programme for 2013 and hosting the elections to the CAIPA Board of Directors and the regional Investment Promotion of the Year Awards.
The opening ceremony to the event was held under the distinguished patronage of the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, M.P., Prime Minister of the Bahamas and was attended by Ministers of government in the Bahamas, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Bank, fDiMagazine, OCO Global (a site selection firm), ProNicaragua and regional investors. The heads of Agencies of the IPA members of CAIPA were also in attendance along with the CAIPA focal points.
The out-going President of CAIPA, Mr. Lestroy Samuel, who is also the Executive Director of the Antigua & Barbuda Investment Authority pointed to the important role that CAIPA can play in positioning the Caribbean for investment and in addressing the challenges that are common to the Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) across the Caribbean. He noted that, “…notwithstanding the significant challenges faced, with many IPAs seeing their budgets cut recently during the period of the worst financial crisis that has ever been experienced across the globe…” the IPAs within the Caribbean have done “remarkably well”. He further encouraged the IPAs to continue to work together noting that “We can accomplish more as a team than all our individual efforts could achieve if we are working alone”.
Caribbean Export, in its role as the CAIPA Secretariat, represented by the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Ambassador Colin Murdoch, supported these sentiments noting that CAIPA has a critically important role to play, “In today’s world, [where] the competition to attract investment is fierce, [and there is a need to] develop mechanisms to make use of our small investment promotion resources in an efficient and effective way”. He noted that :…this unique partnership between Caribbean Export and CAIPA has enabled the more efficient use of available resources” and he reiterated the continued support of Caribbean Export to the IPAs of the region as both entities seek to advance the promotion of investment into the Caribbean.
In delivering the guest presentation at the opening ceremony, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas highlighted the importance of CAIPA as a regional body, but indicated the critical importance of ensuring that within each territory, attention is placed on the local business environment, with particular attention placed on developing the linkages to foreign investment. He noted as an example the importation of tourism products from outside of the region for sale to tourists who travel within the region, indicating that a significant portion of earnings from tourism in the Bahamas leaks out of the economy each year.
Other critical presentations during the General Assembly included 2 panel discussions on Defining the Regional Investment Promotion Strategy and a Regional Investors’ Roundtable. The former discussion sought to provide critical information on strategies that have been developed in other regions of the world to promote their destinations for investment. This, as Caribbean export, in partnership with CAIPA seeks to develop a Regional Investment Promotion Strategy and Implementation Plan as a part of its work programme under the 10th European Development Fund regional Private Sector Development Programme. The panelists, ably led by Mr. Trevor Blake, CEO of the Eastern Caribbean Exchange Limited provided best practices in this area and spoke to the areas in which CAIPA and Caribbean Export should focus attention in order to realize a viable strategy for the Caribbean. The guest panelists included UNCTAD, represented by Mr. Paul Wessendorp, Mr. Gabriel Sanchez of ProNicaragua, Mr. Joe Phillips of OCO Global and Ms. Sonia Roden of the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation.
The second panel discussion sought to open dialogue with regional investors providing perspectives on: investing in the Caribbean, challenges and opportunities; partnerships with the regional IPAs and service value derived; improving the Business Climate in the region; and requirements of IPAs by investors seeking to further expand or re-invest in the region. This session was facilitated by Ms. Courtney Fingar of fDiMagazine and the panelists included: Mr. Ed Fields of the Atlantis, Mr. Robert Sands of the Baha Mar Ltd. and Ms. Jana Caniga of Le phare Bleu Marina and Boutique Hotel. The CAIPA members committed to continuing this conversation with regional investors as it provided critical information that will assist in the targeting of regional investors for re-investments.
The remaining discussions at the General Assembly were dedicated to finalizing CAIPA operational documents, defining the work programme for CAIPA in 2013, electing the new Board of Directors and the hosting of the inaugural Investment Promotion Awards 2012.
The aim of the CAIPA IPA Awards was to identify and recognize excellence within the region in investment promotion and to motivate CAIPA’s members to aim for excellence in the implementation of investment promotion activities. The award winners and categories included:
1. Best Practice Website 2012, which was awarded to invesTT
2. Best Practice in the Attraction of Green Investments 2012, which was awarded to the Centre for Exports and Investment in the Dominican Republic
3. Best Practice in the Creation of Jobs 2012, which was awarded to the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority
4. Regional Excellence in Investment Promotion 2012, which was awarded to the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation
It is anticipated that this event will be hosted at the time of the CAIPA Annual General Assembly each year.
With regard to elections to the Board of Directors, the new Board members include:
• President, Mr. Ronald Theodore, Vice President Promotion and Marketing of the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation;
• 1st Vice President, Ms. Sancia Bennett-Templer, President of JAMPRO;
• 2nd Vice President, Dr. Jean Alain Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Centre for Investment and Export for the Dominican Republic.
• The Directors of the Board include:
o Mr. McHale Andrew, CEO for Invest Saint Lucia;
o Mr. Kelvin Mahabir, President of invesTT;
o Ms. Cleo Huggins, Executive Director of InvestSVG, and
o Ms. Lejia Melanie Gideon, Deputy Executive Director of BELTRAIDE
CAIPA is funded by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund Private Sector Development Programme. The initiatives undertaken by the Association are managed by Caribbean Export in its capacity as the CAIPA Secretariat. Caribbean Export is an international organization with a mandate for export and investment promotion, serving the 15 CARIFORUM states.