The Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce, the network of Caribbean Chambers of Commerce (CARICHAM) and ten Chambers of Commerce across CARICOM participated in the BVI’s Intra-Regional Commerce and Trade Symposium hosted by the Premier’s Office of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) via Zoom on Monday, March 30th, 2020.
The objectives of the symposium were to firstly, obtain a broad overview of the demands and capabilities of the business sectors in the region with respect to trade within the region; secondly, identify obstacles to intra-regional trade and recommend solutions, inclusive of logistics and legislative issues; and thirdly, create a foundation for increasing the networking among the members of the business sectors in the various countries of the region.
Vibrant and open discussions were held with participants providing a synopsis of products manufactured and/or exported in their jurisdictions. Business and trade opportunities were identified and issues related to shipping logistics and regulatory framework were reflected on. This symposium concluded with a commitment voiced by all to work together as a region to build stronger trading relationships going forward. The Premier of the BVI, the Honourable Andrew Fahie committed to follow-up actions being executed in short term to ensure the advancement of intra-regional trade, in addition to the enhancement of trade specific to that of the BVI.
Chairperson of CARICHAM, Ms. Lizra Fabien shared that CARICHAM has been working on a platform for business-to-business exchanges to support enhanced trade across the region, in addition to looking at non-traditional solutions to the economic development of the region. Additionally, Ms. Fabien reiterated that transportation, trade promotion and facilitation, a fundamental pillar of CARICHAM and the focus of the Symposium, is vital to advancing regional integration. Attendees were encouraged that now, in light of COVID-19, to explore and create new opportunities within the region. Ms. Fabien further expressed CARICHAM’s commitment through the various Chambers of Commerce, to broker new connections between businesses in the BVI and rest of the Caribbean region.
Interim Chairman of The BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association (BVICCHA), Ms. Shaina M. Smith, shared in her remarks that “business and economic disruptions are the new abnormal, as we all address the public health crisis that has spawned an economic one and we now must, as we say, ‘learn to chew gum and walk’ as we safeguard the most valuable asset in any country, its human capital, and sustain the economic system that sustains us.” She stated that the region’s private sectors need to close ranks and strategize to complement and supplement each other’s economic success and her hope is to see a regional symbiotic relationship where trade opportunities are explored across imports, exports, market expansion and/or economic diversification.
CARICHAM encourages members and partners of the Chambers of Commerce across the Caribbean to continue to support all efforts in advancing intra-regional trade.