Oliver Joseph, minister of economic development, Grenada
We have embarked on a strategy to encourage investment into Grenada and we think we have a competitive advantage, given our location, educated workforce and infrastructure. We have passed legislation into law that offers incentives – it’s predictable, everyone knows what they will get. Not all investors focus only on the incentive package though, they look at other things. In our case, we also have a very low crime rate and political stability so this encourages investors to come. The priority sectors we have identified for investment are tourism, BPO, renewable energy and education services.
We are looking at investment that will create a lot of quality jobs for Grenada, so that we can reduce unemployment. We place a lot of emphasis on due diligence as we want to ensure we are getting the right type of people into the country, and so far we have attracted some quality investment. We have the citizenship-by-investment programme – there is a lot of interest in the area and most of our FDI is coming through this programme.
Gessy C Petit-Frère, minister of trade and industry, Haiti
When I came to the ministry I realised that Haiti is a really poor country, so we focused on private sector development because we realised that without these enterprises we cannot achieve growth. We put the emphasis on FDI but also on investment from the diaspora living abroad. At the present time we are trying to reorganise and reinforce the capacity of the ministry, as well as focus on different sectors: mining, SMEs, and also enterprises that we can export [such as our arts and crafts].
Haiti has a lot of potential. Even in a very difficult environment, there’s something for everyone. I believe in the Caribbean, there are so many opportunities for investors, and we welcome them. We are working hard to create a safe environment for them and to say ‘this is the new opportunity for the world and we are open to receive anyone to invest in our country’.
Sieglien Burleson, minister of trade and industry, Suriname
We are now looking at the sectors that we have already developed, such as agriculture, mining and forestry, to have manufacturing and processing [around these sectors]. So the diversification will go towards value-adding. We are definitely looking for industries to strengthen this base but also for further development, especially in exports, and the move to becoming an export-oriented economy is part [of this].
Other areas include the services and creative sectors, because those have untapped potential in Suriname. We are Caribbean and we are Latin American, so we have the two worlds combined. We have a lot of cultural diversity, as well as bio-diversity – we are the greenest country on earth. Those combined assets will help diversification; we can create new products that we can deliver to the world.
So that is the goal of the policies the ministry is trying to put in place. We are part of a [regional] market of 25 million and we have a unique opportunity for the production base in our country.
Paula Gopee-Scoon, minister of trade and industry, Trinidad and Tobago
We’ve had huge successes in Trinidad within the energy sector, which started more than 100 years ago with the commercialisation of oil. When the government saw it fit, we diversified. So diversification is something we’ve been doing for a long time, from oil into gas as well.
It’s not that all is lost with energy – it will remain relevant, especially in the future with the expansion of the continental shelf; I think many of the players in the region will have good hydrocarbon discoveries. But we’ve learned many lessons and one is that we can’t rely solely on hydrocarbons.
It is not entirely true diversification so much as an expansion of sectors in which we do business already, such as the maritime sector. We are current players in the transshipment industry but we’re also looking at enhancement in [this] area. We’re a safe harbour and we already have a number of carriers because of the energy industry, so we feel that we can expand more into shipbuilding and dry-docking as well. We’re also looking into the development of marinas. Away from the maritime sector we’re looking at the creative industries, in terms of film, music and fashion.
In energy services we’ve certainly got experience and we can export our energy services as well as our other professional services including architecture, accounting, etc. We’re really ready to expand to other areas of opportunity – we’re a very mature country in terms of having done this before.