Building Bridges for Better Caribbean Business in Trump Era

The Caribbean and Latin America are lapping-up the results of the most controversial US presidential election ever, which served-up what the world had been told was the most tasteless or distasteful candidate as the one Americans liked most. But long before his surprise election victory, Brazil, Cuba and Mexico had started taking steps to consolidate their business, trade, economic, cultural and political ties with their closest neighbours in the Wider Caribbean area.

It’s still too early to say what effect the election of Donald Trump as the next US president will have on America’s relations with its neighbours, from borderline Mexico to Cuba, or from Jamaica to Guyana in the English-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region.

With Caribbean economies still reeling under pressure from domestic and external difficulties and the international financial agencies predicting growth rates that will still be too low to address regional unemployment, the likes of Brazil, Cuba and Mexico have been looking beyond their borders and embracing new initiatives closer to home.

The new November neighbourly comes as Latin American nations seek new South-South business and investment arrangements, forced by global and regional political and economic climate changes to search harder for ways and means of finding common 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 and trade investment and cooperation.

A Brazilian business pivot to the smaller English-speaking Eastern Caribbean islands is currently under way, just as Cuba and Mexico are also looking to CARICOM, OECS and 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 St. 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 also attended the Havana event.

The recent Brazil-OECS Business Forum, organized by the Brazilian Embassy in Saint Lucia with support from the government’s leading investment agency Invest Saint Lucia (ISL) and the OECS Commission, ran alongside a similar mission mounted by Mexico.

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” would take place November 16 to 18.

By the time it’s over, the region should have a better understanding of why the new regime change in Washington will require even stronger efforts to build, renew and strengthen South-South business ties in the Trump era.

Caribbean News Now, The Diplomatic Courier

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