ST MICHAEL'S, Barbados — When the world congregates in London for the 2012 Olympic Games in a few months, the unique and highly valuable Caribbean brand is expected to be unveiled in a manner that has rarely been seen before, through regional marketing and development company, Carib Export (CE).
The regional trade and investment promotion company, headed by Jamaican Pamela Coke Hamilton, launched the entity's London 2012 initiative here yesterday, promising to position regional sports, music, cuisine, and design — the "essence" of the Caribbean by showcasing products and services in a brand new way.
Key to doing this is the 2012 CARIFORUM/EU Business Forum in London.
"We have decided to utilise this forum through a series of meetings, business breakfasts with various private sector entities and business people, distributors, networks, matchmaking, and the EU market looking at joint venture partnerships. We will be going to France, Germany and London.
"We will be having these breakfasts with private sector people from the region and from those respective countries and areas. We believe this will build the kind of capacity and drive for the London initiative, which is the major investments forum, which is basically the fulcrum of what we want to do, get business into the region, drive the investment core," said Coke Hamilton at the launch, held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Conference Centre.
The plan involves pushing the uniqueness of the region and the diversity of its goods and services. This will be done through a focus on "nurturing our world-class brands, telling our unique stories and creating memorable experiences worth sharing", she said.
The Carib Export executive director said what she wants to see is increased investment in the Caribbean and for the region to see this as a new frontier that they can enter and not be intimidated.
"It is wide open, there are potential niche markets in France, in the diasporic market, in the African diaspora. There are investments in the Netherlands, Holland. So I think we need to take the time to develop the relationships and that is why the business breakfasts are so important. Once we have those we will start the matching or pairing up of businesses with investors so at the end of the day, they will see something tangible," she noted.
At the end of the Olympics, Coke Hamilton said she hopes to see at least 60,000 orders for Caribbean products from various European entities. She also hopes the planned interventions by Carib Export will encourage Caribbean exporters to let go of their fear and get excited about seeking investment in that part of the world.
She noted that it presents an unparalleled opportunity for the entity to provide a desperately needed "jump-start" to the utilisation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), signed with the European Union three years ago.
Coke Hamilton complained the agreement has garnered very little momentum among Caribbean businesses since then.
CE also launched its Break Point regional business competition, which also uses the CARIFORUM-EC EPA to drive entrepreneurship.
Caribbean Export is the only regional trade and investment promotion agency in the African, Caribbean and Pacific group. It was established in 1996 from an Implementing Management Unit of the Caricom Regional Trade Development Programme by an Intergovernmental trade agreement as the trade promotion agency of the 15 member states of CARIFORUM.