Amer­ica build­ing bridges for bet­ter Caribbean busi­ness!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Spe­cial STAR Cor­re­spon­dent

It’s too early to say whether or what ef­fect the elec­tion of Donald Trump as the next US Pres­i­dent will have on Mex­ico’s trade re­la­tions with Washington.

Trump has also said noth­ing about US trade ties to Brazil and noth­ing ei­ther about his im­me­di­ate plans for re­cent open­ings for more US trade with Cuba under the out­go­ing Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

But long before his sur­prise elec­tion, Brazil, Cuba and Mex­ico had started tak­ing steps to con­sol­i­date their ties with their other clos­est neigh­bors – The Caribbean. With Caribbean economies still reel­ing under pres­sure from do­mes­tic and ex­ter­nal dif­fi­cul­ties and the in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial agen­cies pre­dict­ing growth rates that will be too low to ad­dress re­gional un­em­ploy­ment, re­gional states are look­ing be­yond their bor­ders and em­brac­ing new ini­tia­tives closer to home.

The new Novem­ber neigh­borly out­reach is tak­ing place at a time when Latin Amer­i­can states are also look­ing for new South-South busi­ness and in­vest­ment ar­range­ments, as global and re­gional po­lit­i­cal and economic cli­mate changes force Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean to look much closer at ways and means of find­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to build bridges to do bet­ter busi­ness.

Cuba’s open­ing-up to US in­vest­ment, Brazil’s need to shore-up its de­clin­ing re­serves and Mex­ico’s growing in­ter­est in at­tract­ing more Caribbean busi­ness to its shores, have com­bined to re­sult in each na­tion this month ar­rang­ing ma­jor trade, in­vest­ment and en­trepreneurial func­tions aimed at boost­ing closer Caribbean-Latin Amer­i­can busi­ness, trade in­vest­ment and co­op­er­a­tion. A par­tic­u­lar Brazil­ian busi­ness pivot to the smaller English- speak­ing East­ern Caribbean is­lands is under way just as Cuba and Mex­ico are look­ing as well to CARICOM and OECS, as well as the other states in the Wider Caribbean region. Cuba hosted the 34th Ha­vana In­ter­na­tional Trade Fair from Oc­to­ber 31 to Novem­ber 4, which was at­tended by del­e­ga­tions from all six OECS mem­ber-states (Antigua and Bar­buda, Do­minica, Gre­nada, St Kitts and Ne­vis, Saint Lu­cia and Saint Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines).

The is­lands’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in the FIHAV 2016 had been ar­ranged by the OECS Com­mis­sion, which sought to in­tro­duce the re­gional busi­ness rep­re­sen­ta­tives not only to the Cuban market, but also to en­ti­ties from over 75 other coun­tries that at­tended the Ha­vana event.

Brazil-OECS Busi­ness Fo­rum, or­ga­nized by the Brazil­ian Em­bassy in Saint Lu­cia with the gov­ern­ment’s lead­ing in­vest­ment agency In­vest saint Lu­cia (ISL) and the OECS Com­mis­sion, will start before and run along­side a sim­i­lar mis­sion mounted by Mex­ico at just about the same time next week.

The Em­bassy of Mex­ico to the East­ern Caribbean States, also lo­cated here, last month an­nounced that the 2016 Can­cun Fo­rum en­ti­tled “Cre­at­ing Syn­er­gies to Strengthen the Com­pet­i­tive­ness of the Greater Caribbean” will be held from Novem­ber 16 to 18.

But the Mex­i­can Fo­rum will not be held within the Caribbean is­land chain. In­stead, it will take place at the Penin­sula Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Can­cun.

This event is has been de­scribed by the em­bassy as “the most im­por­tant busi­ness fo­rum in the Greater Caribbean” and it is de­signed to foster re­gional economic devel­op­ment and com­pet­i­tive­ness by in­creas­ing trade and in­vest­ment flows.

But the Brazil­ian En­trepreneurial Mis­sion, which will come from five top Brazil­ian Fed­eral states and in­cludes at least one Fed­eral par­lia­men­tar­ian with busi­ness re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, is seek­ing to at­tract Brazil­ian

busi­nesses, not only to Saint Lu­cia but all six OECS is­lands.

Dur­ing their visit to Saint Lu­cia, the Brazil­ians will also meet with the OECS Busi­ness Coun­cil, while at the same time en­gag­ing their Saint Lu­cian coun­ter­parts in dis­cus­sions on joint in­vest­ment and other forms of busi­ness co­op­er­a­tion.

Yet the Brazil­ians will not only be en­sconced in ho­tels and busi­ness cen­tres in the is­land’s busy north. They will also visit top award­win­ning tourism at­trac­tions in the is­land’s west coast tourism cap­i­tal, Soufriere, home of the the Pi­tons, and the world award win­ning Jade Moun­tain, Anse Chas­tanet and Ladera Re­sorts.

They will also visit the west coast vil­lage of ca­naries, where res­i­dent CEO of the Bri­tish Caribbean Cham­ber of Com­merce Joseph Kennedy is be­hind the con­struc­tion of the new Belvedere ho­tel.

By the time the in­vestors start their busi­ness talks in Can­cun, the Brazil­ians in Saint Lu­cia would have par­tic­i­pated in the Novem­ber 14 Busi­ness Fo­rum in Saint Lu­cia, at which three of the is­land’s cabi­net min­is­ters will speak, along with ISL and OECS of­fi­cials, about do­ing busi­ness with Saint Lu­cia and the OECS.

Saint Lu­cian busi­nesses that par­tic­i­pated in Cuba’s FIHAV 2016 have also been in­vited to the Novem­ber 11-17 Brazil­ian-OECS Busi­ness Fo­rum in Cas­tries.

Latin Amer­ica’s new Caribbean pivot sees Brazil, Cuba and Mex­ico open­ing new paths and build­ing new bridges for bet­ter busi­ness, all con­verg­ing on Saint Lu­cia this week­end, start­ing with vis­its by a Brazil­ian busi­ness del­e­ga­tion to the is­land’s World Her­itage Site, the Pi­ton Na­tional Land­mark, seen above.

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