Dookeran pushes convergence

At that time he said it was his “fervent belief” that the ACS was an ideal vehicle to advance the process towards convergence which “is essential to cement a position of sustainability for all the economies in the Region, large and small, in the global milieu.”

Two weeks ago at the 2014 Ministerial Council meeting of the ACS at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, Minister Dookeran again broached the subject of “Convergence” in his address which was read by former Caricom Secretary General Edwin Carrington.

He said, “The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has encouraged co-operation that can unlock the synergies of different sub-regions and progress toward gradual convergence in a regional economic space.”

Dookeran stated, “The ACS is fortuitously placed to engender the co-operation necessary to facilitate practical convergence.”

He added, “Trinidad and Tobago is not advocating the creation of something new. Rather, it is about bringing new political and economic dynamics to the process of regional integration and cooperation by restructuring existing frameworks in ‘innovative’ and ‘flexible’ ways to cope with changing global realities and redefining the modalities of execution.”

The Foreign Minister pointed out a single novel aspect of the proposed convergence framework and that is a “new form of public-private partnership within an ‘economy of the Caribbean Sea’ built on production integration, distribution and competitiveness.

“For the Caribbean Sea economy to be sustainable,” Dookeran explained, “it has to be built on the following four pillars-:

1) Inclusive and equitable development;

2) Endogenous growth;

3) Entrepreneurial competitiveness; and

4) Adaptive and re-aligned institutions.

Dookeran said these four broad strategies would support the pillars of the Caribbean Sea Economy and they revolve around finance, clustering, infrastructure and production, which in themselves are mutually interdependent and as such need to be addressed together.

He said, “The economic convergence will have to allow for re-designing of the economic and financial architecture, because finance and liquidity are the lifeblood of any economic system, national, regional or global. Our task is to shore up sufficient regional finance to ensure there is enough liquidity to support convergence.

“Clustering,” he continued”, “involves the regional grouping of firms and institutions that have the ability to offer local goods and services, knowledge and linkups that cannot be matched by outside rivals. In this way, clustering can contribute to innovative and transformative endogenous growth, as well as the enhancement of competitiveness.”

The minister stated that the success of clustering would also involve a regional strategy for capital mobility, foreign direct investment (FDI), facilitation of the regional transfer of knowledge, skills and technology, regionally based and owned investment for the promotion of innovation together with a regional strategy for ICTs and information exchange. He also said that clustering universities and technical institutions would also create synergies, especially in partnering for innovation and competitiveness.

Continuing, Minister Dookeran stated, “The infrastructure for the new frontier of Caribbean convergence includes terrestrial transport linkages, aerial linkages and communications technology with cross-border capabilities, as well as border management and security.

He added, “Improved and low cost regional transport is absolutely critical to facilitate greater movement of goods and people within the region.” And while he did not call any names, one imagines that both Caribbean Airlines and LIAT, would have to play major roles in this area.

Dookeran told the ACS Ministerial Council emphasis has to be placed on the development of transport and logistics “as critical to achieving transformative, endogenous growth and competitiveness in the economy of the Caribbean Sea.”

He also pointed out the need to recognise that finance and capital mobility comprise the backbone for sustaining the pillars of convergence of the economy of the Caribbean Sea, while ensuring the existence of a fully integrated capital market and free flow of capital. He also re-affirmed that energy and food security were essential for the convergence.

He then said, there should be agreement that development finance institutions are isolated and compartmentalised into public sector and private sector in the “modus operandi”.

Therefore, to permit the operation of the desired public-private partnerships, all the development finance institutions in the region (CDB, IDB, TAFF,CAE and others) should be asked to re-design their lending paradigm to deal with the current problems and support the convergence process.

In specific reference to the Association of Caribbean States, Minister Dookeran stated, “For Trinidad and Tobago, the ACS remains a crucial cog in the apparatus of functional co-operation in the Greater Caribbean Region. We are aware of the existence of other groupings in this Hemisphere, including CARICOM, CELAC, UNASUR, OAS, OECS and SICA among other, but we firmly believe that each has a valuable contribution to make in its own right.”

He added, “I believe that the founders of our organisation intended to remind us all of the wealth of the human resources which can be tapped to ensure the sustainable development of the Greater Caribbean Region.

It was no doubt their intention, to provide us courage when our resolve is flagging and to inspire us to loftier achievements when we are on an upward trajectory.

“It is this intellectual capital, “ he continued, “which even against the backdrop of an austere international financial environment, has allowed the organisation to deliver on its primary purpose which is to engender Regional development through co-operative effort.”


"Dookeran pushes convergence"

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