Trade representatives in the region gathered in Barbados from 16-18 October, 2012 to discuss Export Competitiveness: Strategies for the Caribbean Region. The objective of this workshop was to share country experiences in implementing export competitiveness strategies with a view to addressing common and individual country obstacles and to explore new approaches to export competitiveness. These are all strategies necessary to meet emerging challenges in today’s global marketplace.

The broad themes addressed included:

      • Competitiveness and Export-led Growth
      • Market Access
      • Trade Facilitation and Logistics
      • Addressing supply-side constraints
      • Unlocking Export Development Strategies
      • Leveraging Partnerships

The format of the Workshop included presentations, followed by discussion and group work. There were specific discussions around the Global Competitiveness Report and the fact that most Caribbean Countries have not seen significant improvements in recent years. This led to discussions on current regulatory environment within the territories and those specific areas that need to be addressed through proactive actions at macro and micro-levels. The areas identified for this purpose were:

–       Conformity to Standards (using quality standards as a market access tool).

–       Need for vertical and horizontal collaboration. This highlights the need for connectivity through value chains.

The group discussed several matters surrounding productivity in the region, trade promotion organizations and their service offering to MSMEs and  private sector’s role in improving competitiveness. All countries had the opportunity to talk about their experiences and potential follow-up actions to be taken to improve export competitiveness at the National level. Belize’s follow-up actions included the Strengthening of the Export Development and export promotion functions at BELTRAIDE; exploring options for a coordination mechanism for NES implementation based on lessons from Countries in the Region; advocating for changes in incentives that encourage competitiveness and innovation; providing recommendation on the National structure for trade negotiation to include key private sector stakeholders and revitalizing the cluster development initiatives.