According to the agenda for the Forum, Persad-Bissessar is listed to open the Forum at 9.05 am on Wednesday. Trade Minister Vasant Bharath and Finance Minister Larry Howai are scheduled to participate in panel discussions at 9.30 am and 10.50 am respectively on the same day. The panel discussion which Howai will participate in deals with sovereign debt and public finances in the Caribbean.
Other topics to be addressed at the Forum include renewable energy; oil and gas in the Caribbean; regional tourism and opportunities for the Caribbean arising from “an expanded Panama Canal.” In a recent interview with Newsday’s Business Day magazine, Trinidad and Tobago International Financial Centre (TTIFIC) CEO Varun Maharaj said the staging of the Forum was timely for this country, in light of the continued volatility of global oil prices.
Maharaj expressed the view that the Forum could provide a platform to assist in diversifying this country’s economy and noted the financial services sector could contribute in this regard.
“This conference or this venture is the culmination of a strategy that we have been pursuing over the last 12 months,” he said. Asked if the choice to host the conference in TT was easy or if this country beat out other countries for the right to host it, Maharaj replied, “The conference used to be held in the Caribbean, not exclusively Trinidad, that is the Caribbean Finance and Investment Forum from the years 2000 to 2008.”
He indicated that when the world financial crisis occurred in 2008, Latin Finance decided they would no longer have the Caribbean Finance and Investment Forum.. “It probably was not feasible, given the interest that was out there,” Maharaj explained.
“What they have found, from our discussions with them, is that there is now keen interest in what is happening in Trinidad, as we are positioning Trinidad to be an IFC,” he said. “We engaged them and they were willing to partner with us, to restart this forum and for it to take place in Trinidad,” Maharaj added.
The Forum is being co-hosted by Latin Finance and the TTIFIC. Newsday is the exclusive local media partner to Latin Finance with respect to the Forum. Other sponsors include the Inter- American Development Bank and Oppenheimer.