The Prime Minister of The Bahamas presented keynote remarks at today’s [Caribbean Investment Summit]( in London.

This Summit was hosted by The Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA) in collaboration with the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export). It focused on 3 key industry sectors: renewable energy, business process outsourcing (BPO) and niche tourism, and was designed to provide a unique opportunity for the Caribbean to position its ‘shovel ready projects’ and investment propositions to potential investors from the UK and Europe.

The Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie, M.P., said foreign investment in the Caribbean, Central and Latin America has been more diversified in recent years. In Central and Latin America, re-investment in projects have been sustained at high levels, fueling double-digit growth and early recoveries of those economies. *“Comparatively, the more vulnerable economies of the Caribbean continue to experience slower but steady growth, exhibiting in some countries greater reliance on inflows of remittances from the diaspora than on foreign investment to spur economic growth.”*

He said there is good news on the horizon with respect to the state of affairs of Caribbean economies. *“The climate is indeed ripe for inward investment in the Caribbean which has re-doubled its efforts toward implementing energy and fiscal reforms, promotion of investment incentives, strengthening of compliance frameworks and continued redress of social ills in the wake of the global economic crisis.”*

The Caribbean region as a whole was touted as providing competitive advantages of accessibility, economic and political stability, adequate labour supply, modern infrastructure, robust investment incentive frameworks and trade facilitation. And, with some preferential access to markets through its trade agreements with Europe, the United States and Canada. This has increased the opportunities for inward investment, said PM Christie, noting that promotional efforts in this direction are yielding good results. Foreign investors reportedly are now venturing in previously unexplored sectors: in natural resources, infrastructure, manufacturing, real estate, transport, telecommunications, energy, stem cell research and medical tourism. *“As we continue towards development of a single market, such peripheral vision will ultimately reap real rewards over the long-term,”* attested the Prime Minister.

He added that a substantial amount of foreign direct investment must continue to build on the traditional sectors where the Caribbean has a competitive advantage; these include tourism, financial services, business service outsourcing, fisheries and agro-processing. He maintained that the tourism sector and its niche industries will continue to be the engine of economic growth, employment, human capital development, industry diversification and business improvement for most of the 40 million citizens of the Caribbean.

There are distinctly different strengths and weaknesses inherent in each country’s overall economic model and more research is needed to distinguish individual country attributes and levels of competitiveness to enable Caribbean countries to do a better job of investment promotion to foreign investors and Caribbean investors of the diaspora as well as those within the wider Caribbean community. *“That is not to say that foreign investment alone will improve our fortunes, but I believe it will require a dedicated and ongoing process of private sector-led investment to build capacity and enterprise aimed at strengthening our domestic economies and creating a state of employment readiness across all sectors. It will also require substantial investment as public-private partnerships in infrastructure development and transportation to stimulate cross-border trade between countries.”*

Prime Minister Christie extended thanks to the Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA) which has partnered with CAIPA and engaged Caribbean governments in identifying their unique investment and development needs. CEDA has worked in collaboration with investment promotion intermediaries such as CAIPA, to build capacity in country branding and promotion, advance regional cooperation and promote inward investment.