Huge Economic Benefits to be Reaped from Renewable Energy Transition

  • Green economy transition can create 400,000 jobs in Caribbean region
  • Investors need political stability and policy continuity to invest in long-term renewable energy projects
  • Trinidad and Tobago will soon have hydrogen road map (end of November) to a fully decarbonised energy industry over the next 40 years
  • Consultant says societies must recognise that energy transition is ongoing – it will never stop
  • From kindergarten onward – education about climate change is critical
  • Small business owner says not financially viable to go green without incentives

CARICOM member states have committed to a target of 47% electricity generation from renewables by 2027.   This will require billions of investment dollars. So how can the region make renewables attractive to investors?  And why should the Caribbean take on this burden when CARICOM’s total contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is extremely small?

A compelling case was made at the recently held Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) on the enormous economic benefits the region would reap from transitioning to renewable energy usage.

CARICOM Secretary-General Dr Carla Barnett warned that climate change was an existential threat to island nations.  “To combat it we are required to build environmental and economic resilience urgently.”  Building a robust renewable energy sector also presents an opportunity for economic transformation, she said, and noted that the cross-sectoral impact of energy transition within the Caribbean will:

  1. liberate the region from energy dependency and lessen its exposure to energy price shocks;
  2. create fiscal space and lessen the burden on countries’ foreign exchange reserves;
  3. provide new and more flexible energy, and other environmental services to commercial and industrial consumers;
  4. provide new avenues for investors to receive stable returns on infrastructure development? investments; and
  5. create new energy services companies and in the process create new employment.

Echoing her sentiments, Caribbean Export Executive Director Deodat Maharaj said: “A green economy transition presents the ideal opportunity to lessen pressure on foreign exchange reserves as well as limit exposure to price volatility in international energy markets, which we are seeing now. Equally as important, the transition has the potential to spur economic growth by lowering the marginal cost of energy for the private sector as well as lowering overall energy intensity.”

In addition, he noted that a 2020 report jointly published by the International Labour Organization and the Inter-American Development Bank, “estimated that a green economy transition will help create approximately 400,000 jobs, a big boost to our economies.”

The International Renewable Energy Agency has also estimated that for every US dollar invested in energy transition, an additional US93 cents of GDP growth will occur above the business-as-usual scenario in the region, Maharaj said.

But how will the region finance the billions of dollars needed to undertake the necessary projects? This was the focus of the Renewable Energy Roundtable, entitled Energy transition: Making renewables attractive for private sector investment, on Day 3 (November 11th 2022) of the Caribbean Investment Forum, which was held at the Hyatt Regency in Trinidad, and organized by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) in collaboration with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, CARICOM, the Caribbean Development Bank, and the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies with the support of the European Union.

Speakers comprised:

  • Moderator – Dr Damie Sinanan, Manager – Competitiveness & Export Promotion, Caribbean Export
  • Vernon Paltoo, President – National Energy Corporation T&T (NEC)
  • Federico Fische, Regional Co-ordinator, PFAN: Latin America & The Caribbean Private Financing Advisory Network
  • Jari Aaltonen, Manager – Bloom Cluster
  • Michael McQuilkin, Manager-Investment Banking, Republic Bank

“NEC has been working with the IDB and by the end of this month (November) we will launch T&T’s hydrogen road map, which would lay the framework for how it would achieve a decarbonised energy industry over the next 40 years”, Paltoo said.  “This is a long-term plan starting with energy efficiency, then renewable energy and ultimately decarbonisation and calls for partnership between the private and public sectors”, Paltoo continued.

Predicting that Trinidad and Tobago would be a producer and exporter of hydrogen in the foreseeable future, he disclosed that, an estimated 25 gigawatts of power would be required by the country’s petrochemical, energy and power industries: “we have determined that offshore winds are the most reasonable option,” to achieve this.  Further studies are still to be done, he added.

Republic Bank’s McQuilkin said the returns on renewable energy projects “are attractive and very long-term.”  but the projects were very costly so an investor must have the confidence that the overall financial structure will be long-term and that needs political stability to ensure the investment decisions would not be reversed.   He also hoped to see regional manufacturing have opportunities and he suggested the need for training and coaching for the local population to participate in the benefits from renewable energy investment.

One small business owner in the audience pointed out the capital cost to transition might be too much for a small business.  He estimated that to convert his fleet of delivery vehicles to CNG would cost upwards of TT$70,000.  “Are there incentives being considered for small, hyper localised businesses like mine? he asked Paltoo.

Fische said societies needed to understand that energy transition was not only necessary, it would never stop.  The culture needs to change to support that notion, he said.  “The technology is going to move the transition forever,” he said. 

Endorsing the view that populations needed to understand that energy transition was needed “to ensure continuity of life as we know it,” Paltoo advised that education was critical, from early childhood to university, to achieve this.

The inaugural Caribbean Investment Forum, set to become a flagship event on Caribbean Exports’ calendar,  took place in Port of Spain, Trinidad from November 8-11, 2022.  The high-level, business-focused event connected key regional decision-makers, innovators, and entrepreneurs with the world’s most influential investors to explore the investment opportunities available throughout the region. It also served as a launch pad for thought leaders keen on accruing the benefits of first-mover advantages in this developing space. Under the theme Building A SMARTer, GREENer Caribbean, stakeholders focused, in particular, on investment opportunities in technology, agriculture, renewable energy, transport and logistics and innovation.   These projects will improve the lives of over 30 million Caribbean people in the countries across the Region

Increased Trade and Investment to Bolster Business Growth with MOU Signing’s

  • Caribbean Export signs MOUs with the World Trade Center Miami (WCTM) and Canning House to bolster the Caribbean’s investment promotion.
  • Businesses across the region are set to benefit from partnerships.
  • The Caribbean Investment Forum set the backdrop for the MOU signing in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the World Trade Center Miami (WTCM) and Canning House agreeing on a framework to sustain trade and investment promotion efforts in the Caribbean.

The official signing took place at the landmark Caribbean Investment Forum, which was held 8-11 November 2022 in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago.

Addressing the media Deputy Executive Director of Caribbean Export, Mr. Leo Naut noted “the new business paradigm calls for increased partnerships. This means that CARIFORUM businesses, workers, and producers will need to collaborate and work smarter to successfully compete globally and enter new markets for trade and the attraction of investment.  Caribbean Export, alongside our partners, stand as a united front to support and enable business growth, expansion, and collaboration. In this new age of partnership, we are happy to onboard two new partners to bring forth prosperity and development to the Caribbean region”.

Canning House based in London, UK has the objective of building understanding and relationships between the UK, Latin America and Iberia.  In his remarks Juan Teran Jurado, Corporate Affairs Manager at Canning House, expressed his gratitude at being part of the Caribbean Investment Forum and for the opportunity to “deepen the economic trade and investment relationships between the UK and Latin America”.  Canning House is a global forum for thought-leadership and pragmatic debate on the region’s political, economic, social, health and environmental trends and issues – and their implications for business risks and opportunities.

Florida, for many reasons, logistically and with a large Caribbean diaspora, is an important gateway for Caribbean investment and trade and home to the WTCM.

Ivan Barrios, President of the World Trade Center Miami, shared that the Caribbean was very important to the South Florida community and that the signing of the MOU was timely given a new series of seminars being planned for the Caribbean titled “How to export your products to the United States using Miami as a platform”.

The World Trade Center Miami is a powerful driver for business growth and economic prosperity of Florida and as a non-profit stimulates trade and investment opportunities for commercial property developers, economic development agencies, and international businesses looking to connect globally and prosper locally.

The two MOUs come after more than two years of uncertainty and tepid business activity, and signals that the Caribbean is open for business.   

Caribbean Export, supported by the European Union, as the regional investment and trade promotion agency, whose mandate, is to help build a resilient Caribbean, views support and partnerships vital to sustain and create business opportunities particularly when the world and small states are confronted with immense economic challenges.

The Caribbean Investment Forum placed strategic focus on sectors such as the digital economy, renewable energy, agriculture technology (AgTech) and logistics and transportation; all sectors deemed critical for the sustainable development of our economies. The Caribbean Investment Forum was hosted by the Caribbean Export Development Agency, the European Union, The CARICOM Secretariat, Ministry of Trade and Industry Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean Development Bank.

Caribbean Export and India Exim Bank Launch New Study on Trade Between CARIFORUM and India

The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export), the region’s foremost investment and trade promotion agency, has launched a brand-new publication in collaboration with Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank India). The publication, entitled “Enhancing India CARIFORUM Economic Relations and Prospects for Cooperation”, which explores trade opportunities between Caribbean countries and India was introduced to more than 400 attendees present at the Caribbean Investment Forum in Trinidad and Tobago.

Caribbean Export is committed to facilitating growth of the regional private sector through economic development and integration programming.  The Agency partnered with Exim Bank India to produce this study to unlock the investment and export opportunities for entrepreneurs on both sides. 

The study expands on the key features of India – CARIFORUM economic relations and explores the mutual benefits to be derived from trade. Notably it states that “India has potential to expand exports in product categories such as mineral fuels and oils, electronics, transport vehicles, cereals, optical instruments, meat and edible meat offal, and animal or vegetable fats and oils etc”.

Speaking at the Caribbean Investment Forum via video link, Mr. N Ramesh, Deputy Managing Director of India Exim Bank, opened Day 2 of the Caribbean Investment Forum with a speech centered on the publication’s areas of significance. Mr. Ramesh drew the audience’s attention to the fact that “for the Export-Import Bank of India, the Latin America and the Caribbean region has always been a region of focus, to promote and support two-way trade and investment” and that trade between India and the Caribbean region had seen robust growth, “from a meagre level of US$ 52.4 million in 2001, India and Caribbean trade was recorded at US$ 1.7 billion in 2021.” 

He went on to share “As a partner institution to promote economic development in LAC, India Exim Bank has set in place various activities and programs, which contribute to sharing India’s development experience through capacity building and skill transfer, trade, and infrastructure development.”

Caribbean Export’s Deputy Executive Director, Leo Naut, presented the publication to High Commission of India in Trinidad and Tobago’s Charge d’affaires Mr. Raju Sharma at the event.  Naut expressed that the joint research report was an important contribution to not only serve as a valuable reference for policy makers and academia but also for businesses to discover new opportunities for trade. 

The Caribbean’s investment opportunities were strategically spotlighted at the Caribbean Investment Forum, namely: AgTech, digital business including e- commerce, innovation, and technology; Green economy transition, and transport and logistics. In collaboration with Caribbean Export, the new study is part of India Exim Bank’s Working Paper Series which serves to enrich the knowledge of Indian exporters to improve India’s competitiveness overall.

Africa and the Caribbean Could Become the Green Energy Producers for Europe in the Future

European Union Ambassador Peter Cavendish believes that Africa and the Caribbean can be the green hydrogen producers of the future.  In addition, Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), Wamkele Mene, says the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia could potentially control the market for lithium-ion batteries.

These revelations were made at a Press Conference that followed the Opening Ceremony of the inaugural Caribbean Investment Forum organized by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) being held from November 8 – 11, 2022 in Trinidad and Tobago.

Ambassador Cavendish believes sustainable energy is an area in which both the Caribbean and Africa have significant competitive advantage and could significantly impact the world.  He spoke of the fundamental shift that has taken place in Europe that historically believed it was energy secure and energy independent.  We realise now we are energy dependent and he spoke of how recently “the Middle East, the Norwegians, the Americans and the Nigerians stepped in to help us with our energy needs in time of crisis.”  This heralded a gigantic change that has taken place in European psychology and I think both the Caribbean and African nations will be able to benefit from that, he said.

The Caribbean has solar, wind, wave, river water, and 19 volcanos from which it can generate energy, he said.   “The Caribbean and Africa together have the potential to be the major green hydrogen supplier for Europe in the future,” he said. “You have a gigantic energy advantage” that will last through the lifetimes of you, your children and your grandchildren, he assured.

Both in his Keynote Address and at the press conference, Ambassador Mene highlighted a common obstacle blocking growth and development in both the Caribbean and Africa. He said both regions needed to retain a much greater percentage of the value created from their primary resources.  While those resources could, for example, be sun and sea, cocoa, spices, oxide or gold, Mene highlighted the example of lithium cobalt oxide.  He noted that while the DRC and Zambia were the leading producers in the world of this key input into the lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles, they historically have never produced batteries.  Similarly, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire are major producers of cocoa but do not make chocolates. “Value-added is very important…there must be a shift of investment to the production sector,” Mene said.

Caribbean Export Executive Director Deodat Maharaj also pointed out that studies have shown that less than 10 cents of every tourism dollar spent in the Caribbean is retained in the Caribbean.

In Africa, change has begun.  Last year, the governments of DRC and Zambia agreed to stop the export of unprocessed oxide and work together to produce lithium batteries.  In addition, the governments of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have agreed there will be no more exporting unprocessed cocoa.  “The DRC and Zambia could potentially control the market for lithium batteries,” Mene told the media.  He also predicted that “in 10-15 years, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire would be major producers of coffee and chocolate.

Mene hopes that Africa and the Caribbean will work together to align their export and investment strategies,  to increase trade and investment between both regions.  He said he already regarded the Caribbean as “the sixth region” in AFCFTA and discussions have already begun for direct airlift between West Africa and the Caribbean.  The African EXIM Bank has also made US$900 million available to the region to further advance engagement between Africa and the Caribbean.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Trade & Industry Minister, Paula Gopee-Scoon, revealed that Trinidad and Tobago “will open a commercial office in South Africa in the first quarter of 2023 to facilitate trade and investment.”

Inaugural Caribbean Investment Forum Highlights Huge Investment Opportunities

  • Inaugural Caribbean Investment Forum opened today (November 9, 2022) in Port of Spain, Trinidad
  • Overwhelming response to Caribbean Export’s invitation with over 500 in-person attendees from over 35 countries
  • Urgent call issued for private sector to take central role to build and transform Caribbean economy
  • Less talk and more business, promises Caribbean Export Head
  • Study shows huge potential for Caribbean exports to Africa, says H.E. Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General, African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA)

Before it had even begun, it was clear the inaugural Caribbean Investment Forum was a resounding success given the overwhelming in-person attendance of 500+ delegates from over 35 countries.

This no doubt reflects the urgency felt by business people, investors, eager entrepreneurs, government officials across the region, and even diplomats and ordinary citizens to see the Caribbean confront and triumph over the threats to their survival and create a bright new future for its people.

Speaking at the Opening Ceremony on Wednesday, Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export), Deodat Maharaj, said: “The key is for us to focus on the main drivers that can truly advance Caribbean transformation” and so the Forum has focused on:

  1. Green economy transition
  2. Digitalisation technology and innovation
  3. Agriculture; and
  4. Transport and logistics.

The investment, job creation and business opportunities relating to these sectors are huge.
CARICOM Secretariat Secretary-General, Dr Carla Barnett, noted that CARICOM Heads have set a target of 47% electricity generation from renewables by 2027 and have committed to reducing the Region’s food import bill by 25% by 2025. “Over the period 2018-2020, the CARICOM food import bill was US$13.76 billion or approximately 5% of GDP,” she said.

Digital technologies could radically transform and create opportunities in agriculture, manufacturing and services; accelerate growth for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs); and reshape energy systems, she also noted.

“I believe that if we make progress in these sectors, we will achieve success. However, to build a truly resilient Caribbean, business must be an essential partner, playing not a peripheral or tangential role but a central role,” Maharaj emphasized.

Investment therefore matters more than ever, Barnett said, particularly given the fall in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), from a peak of US$6.65 billion in 2008 to US$3.9 billion in 2019 to US$2.4 billion with the onset of the pandemic.

EU Ambassador Peter Cavendish believes the Caribbean’s attraction to investors include its access to the European market, having the world’s number one cocoa genome and cocoa research centre, and its leading institutes and organisations such as the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute. He stressed that under the Economic Partnership Agreements with Caribbean nations, the EU can offer considerable technical expertise and advice as well as financial resources to addressing the Caribbean’s investment and transformation needs.

However, H.E. Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General, African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), believes the Caribbean and the African continent have much to gain by co-operating with each other in trade and investment. He sees compelling and urgent reasons for the two regions to forge strong commercial ties, building on the primarily historical and emotional bonds that have connected them thus far.

Delivering the Keynote Address entitled “New Markets, New Investments for New Times”, Mene referenced the two recent seismic events that exposed a common vulnerability of the two regions: the Covid-19 pandemic that “saw our two regions at the back of the queue for much-needed vaccines” and the Russia-Ukraine conflict that disrupted supply chains and has caused both food insecurity and food inflation. These two events indicate that Africa and the Caribbean region must rely more on each other and less on their traditional markets, he said.

“As we see these changes in the economic paradigms of the world, we must diversify our markets for exports and investments. That’s why this Forum is so very important,” Mene said. Noting that Caribbean exports to the African continent was negligible at 4.4% of total exports, he pointed to a recent study by the International Trade Centre which saw significant potential for this to grow to up to US$1 billion over the next five years in areas ranging from agro-processing, health care, tourism and the automobile sector.

The study also saw opportunity for Africa to boost its annual merchandise exports to the Caribbean by 54% or US$170 million annually by the year 2026 covering over 200 tariff lines. “The Continent of Africa offers an opportunity for the Caribbean as a new partner, an opportunity to diversify your export markets, to create export jobs in the Caribbean and be globally competitive,” Mene said. “The Caribbean region can also expand exports of goods to Africa by US$80 million or 29%” and this would be even more if services and transport are added, he said.

The African Continental Free Trade Area represents a market of 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of US$3.4 trillion. According to a McKensie & Co study, this GDP is forecast to grow to almost US$7 trillion by 2055.

In her remarks, Trinidad and Tobago’s Trade & Industry Minister, Sen. Paula Gopee-Scoon said: “We trust that this Forum will act as a catalyst to boost our entire region’s (FDI) flows and this is a major reason why we are here – to showcase our progress and bankable investment opportunities.”

With a packed and interesting programme, she particularly highlighted the Transport and Logistics Roundtable on Day 3, saying it promised “to be an exciting one, with regional participants, including from key Port Authorities, discussing the advantages of the Caribbean’s location and mutually beneficial avenues for investments in areas such as port infrastructure and services and strengthened logistics, among others.”

The Caribbean Investment Forum is a four-day, high-level business-focused event designed to present and explore these investment opportunities across the region. The regional forum is organized by the Caribbean Export Development Agency in collaboration with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, CARICOM, the Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies and with the support of the European Union.

The Forum is taking place from the 8-11th of November 2022 at the Hyatt Regency in Trinidad and Tobago and connects key regional decision-makers, innovators, and entrepreneurs with the world’s most influential investors.

Under the theme ‘Building A SMARTer, GREENer, Caribbean’, stakeholders will learn and explore some of the most attractive investment opportunities in technology, agriculture, renewable energy, and innovation; and hopefully advance projects that will improve the lives of over 30 million Caribbean People in the 23 Countries across the Region.

Regional Business Forum Set to Unleash Caribbean’s Investment Potential

  • Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF 2022) will showcase development opportunities in the region.
  • Over 400 decision makers, industry experts and government stakeholders will attend CIF 2022.
  • Forum will connect investors with entrepreneurs to build a ‘SMARTer, GREENer Caribbean’.

Global business leaders looking to invest in the Caribbean and connect with regional innovators and entrepreneurs will soon be gathering at the highly anticipated Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF 2022).

The Forum, which takes place in Trinidad from 8-11 November, will bring together more than 400 top tier regional and international executives to explore over 20 investment projects in the key areas of AgTech, The Green Economy, Transportation and Logistics, and Digital Business.

CIF 2022 attendees will meet with talented individuals and teams who are working on innovative, viable, and cutting edge projects that are ready to move into the next exciting phase of development.

The inaugural Forum is the ideal platform for foreign-direct investors who are ready and willing to collaborate on programmes that will boost regional growth, create long-term jobs, and transform the Caribbean into a ‘GREEN-er and SMART-er’ economy.

The three-day event will also include thought-provoking talks from an impressive cadre of speakers, including the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Keith Rowley, and Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Paula Gopee-Scoon.

They will be joined by several world-class presenters including the Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, H.E Wamkele Mene, Founding Managing Partner at Celesta Capital, Dr Nicholas Brathwaite, JetBlue Ventures’ Managing Director of Operations & Partnerships, Stephen Snyder, and Executive Director of Invest SVG, Annette Mark.

Some of the topics being examined are ‘Financing for investment’, ‘ICT and digital business’, and ‘Private sector engagement for Caribbean transformation’. There will also be roundtables, panel discussions, site visits, and mix and mingle networking opportunities.

CIF 2022 is being hosted by the Caribbean Export Development Agency with support from the European Union, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, CARICOM, the Caribbean Development Bank, and the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies.

Book your place at the Caribbean Investment Forum here –

Caribbean Brands Stand Out from the Crowd at SIAL Paris 2022

  • 14 Caribbean brands showcased products in France under the ‘Absolutely Caribbean’ pavilion.
  • Over 300,000 agri-food industry professionals visited the tradeshow from 15-19 October.
  • SIAL Paris 2022 attracted importers, buyers, distributors, and retailers from around the world.

Caribbean food and drink brands stood out from the crowd at the recently concluded international tradeshow ‘SIAL Paris 2022’, with premium products ranging from coffee and chocolate to rum and wine.

Exhibiting under the ‘Absolutely Caribbean’ umbrella with the support of the Caribbean Export Development Agency and the European Union, 14 Caribbean brands made a lasting impression on thousands of agri-food professionals with their authentic, innovative, and unique products which use natural, flavourful ingredients.

SIAL is the world’s leading bi-annual trade fair and this year it attracted around 300,000 visitors along with 7,000 exhibitors from over 200 countries. The major tradeshow has not been held since 2018 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so visitors were looking forward to five days of networking, engagement, and discovery, with organisers saying the event could generate close to €50 billion in business transactions.

After visiting the ‘Absolutely Caribbean’ booth, commercial director at Wanis, a leading UK food and drink distributor, George Philips, told Caribbean Export that he was impressed with the range of premium Caribbean products on show at SIAL. He said: “I think this shows that all of the Caribbean manufacturers are stepping up their game and they are really pushing out brands that can compete with anything in Europe or the US.”

Co-founder of J & J Spirits, Jack Astacio, said he was “proud and happy” to be exhibiting at SIAL. Speaking shortly after the event got under way, he added: “We have received a lot of interest from around the world, like the Philippines and Africa, and that’s why it’s important to be here. We’ve also been humbled by all the information and feedback so now we can take that back to our countries and do any necessary adjustments.”

Managing director at Coffee Roasters of Jamaica Limited, Mark Fletcher, said he hoped exhibiting in Paris would help his brand break into the European market: “We’ve already had some good interest in our products so we hope those leads turn into orders”, he stated.

Reflecting at the end of the event, VincyFresh’s Shelly-Ann Fraser, described taking part in SIAL as “a privilege”. She added: “It was an absolute pleasure serving samples to visitors to our stand and watching and hearing their delightful reactions to our fine collection of sauces, marinades and condiments.

“The networking opportunities were awesome. I met with market leaders and distributors of our line of products operating in Europe and Africa. VincyFresh is very grateful for this opportunity to expose our world-class products to an international audience.”

The Caribbean companies showcasing at SIAL Paris 2022 were; Native Organics from The Bahamas, Barbados’ Superb Blend, Belize’s Truly Turmeric, The Dominican Republic’s Chicharon The World’s Cinnamon Rum and J&J Spirits, SRL, Only Coconuts from Guyana, Choko Lakay from Haiti, Coffee Roasters of Jamaica Ltd, St Lucia’s Cacoa Sainte Lucie and St Lucia Distillers, Flauriel from St Kitts and Nevis, Sishado from Suriname, V’Toria Rhonda Vineyard & Winery from Trinidad and Tobago and VincyFresh Ltd from St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Impressive Revenue Expectations from Agriculture Production in the Caribbean

  • Caribbean Agro Industry set to see positive revenues.
  • Alquimi supports the successful implementation and expansion of Greenhouse Farm Projects under their two brands; Island Growers Caribbean (IGC) and BerryCove Organic Farms, Trinidad & Tobago’s first commercially scaled climate-smart hydroponic greenhouse farm.
  • Alquimi Senior Partner & Principal Ralph Birkhoff is a Speaker at the 2022 Caribbean Investment Forum this November 8th- 11th in Trinidad & Tobago.

The Caribbean Investment Forum, to be held November 8-11 at the Hyatt Regency in Trinidad and Tobago, is an opportunity for investors to explore the extraordinary opportunities in the Caribbean region. One speaker at the Forum, Ralph Birkhoff, Senior Partner & Principal, Alquimi Renewables, LLC, knows first hand that this region is ripe for investment in sustainable development, particularly climate-resilient protected agriculture and integrated renewable energy systems based on his experiences. More information on the Caribbean Investment Forum can be found at

“After having lived in the region for over a decade, and being from Canada,” Birkhoff said. I realized that many of these fresh produce categories have to be imported as there is not the agricultural infrastructure here to service the local demand with the types of fresh, healthy, delicious produce we’re accustomed to in more developed markets.”

Birkhoff, living and working then as an investor and consultant in the region, realized that many of the types of imported produce sold across the island supermarkets simply could not be grown by traditional means in the region. This gap in the market prompted Birkhoff and his partners at Alquimi Renewables to focus on developing a climate smart greenhouse prototype; one that was adaptable to the unique context of Caribbean islands and resistant to the deadly Category 5 hurricanes that frequent the region, as well as being energy and water efficient. Alquimi’s greenhouses are designed for sub-tropical zones using various integrated hydroponic systems that can grow these types of produce locally, reducing the need for imports.

Collaborating with local, regional and international investment interests, Alquimi supports the successful implementation and expansion of Greenhouse Farm Projects under their two brands. Island Growers Caribbean (IGC) and BerryCove Organic Farms, Trinidad & Tobago’s first commercially scaled climate-smart hydroponic greenhouse farm.Alquimi and their investor partners are adding to food security in Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda, and Barbados, with plans to expand in 2023 to Guyana,Saint Lucia, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, and many other islands across the region in the coming years.

“Because of the constant risk of annual tropical storms that would destroy a standard greenhouse,” Birkhoff said. “We needed to develop an innovative system that would meet the specific threats of the region and provide investors with risk mitigation to ensure that our investments wouldn’t be affected once operational.. Because of the many inherent climate risks in our region, current farms and greenhouse systems don’t qualify for insurance to protect their assets. We changed that dynamic and were the first greenhouse farms to be commercially insured in the region.

Alquimi, like many entrepreneurial companies building solutions for the Caribbean shared that indeed the toughest part of the development process of this new greenhouse technology, was getting investors to understand that this is uncharted territory in this region, and that every step and approval we require is a unique one. “For instance we were the first applicant ever to receive permission to import live berry plant stock from Europe into Trinidad”.

“Being transparent with investors is important,” he said. “Everything we’re doing is quite new to the region. We’re introducing new technologies and engineering solutions at every turn because of the region’s unique weather and climate conditions. While these same technologies can be expanded to areas that are less prone to threatening tropical storms, they still need to be engineered for the most extreme local environments. We never know when a Category 5 storm is going to take aim at our facilities – only that some day they will.”

Alquimi has also recently established Advanced Hydroponic Systems in Trinidad, which designs, engineers and fabricates customized commercial hydroponic systems for sale and export. “We see a tremendous opportunity for growth in this unique manufacturing sector to support the expanding regional and international CEA sector.”

Ralph Birkhoff will join dozens of other speakers and hundreds of attendees at the Caribbean Investment Forum, November 8-11 at the Hyatt Regency in Trinidad and Tobago. The forum will provide potential investors with information and direct access to leaders throughout the region who are creating the innovative solutions the region needs and that savvy investors can benefit from financially.

“The revenue expectations from expanded agricultural production for this region are impressive,” Birkhoff said. “Providing this region with additional food security and helping to develop renewable energy solutions the region needs for the next century, are not only key to the region’s development, but are outstanding opportunities for investors to realize a solid return while making a lasting difference for the people.”

Entrepreneurs and investors interested in attending the Caribbean Investment Forum can learn more and register at

Caribbean Investment Forum launched with focus on building resilience and boosting investment in the region

  • Virtual launch of Caribbean Investment Forum attracts over 400 attendees from 36 countries.
  • Caribbean Investment Forum will take place in Trinidad and Tobago from 8-11 November.
  • CIF 2022 is expected to be the “largest gathering of businesses since COVID-19’ in the region.

Hundreds of businesses and investors from across the world are being invited to help build a “SMARTer, GREENer Caribbean” via the inaugural Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) which will be held in Trinidad and Tobago from 8-11 November 2022.

At the virtual launch for CIF 2022 today, over 400 participants heard details about the dynamic agenda for the business-focused event which will bring together key decision-makers, foreign-direct investors, government agencies, and entrepreneurs, to engage and connect for the benefit of the region.

The Forum will particularly highlight four important sectors for growth; AgTech, Renewable Energy, Transportation and Logistics, and Digital Business. Its main objectives include building regional resilience, establishing long-term jobs, and championing sustainable development.

Speaking at the launch, Caribbean Export’s Executive Director, Deodat Maharaj, said the Forum was timely and essential because “business and investment have an absolutely critical role to play in driving transformation” in the Caribbean.

He added: “The last two years have demonstrated to us more than ever that building resilience must be the top priority of our region. The COVID-19 pandemic placed enormous stress on our economies and societies…it is crystal clear that we need to have a forensic focus on sectors that can drive and advance this transformation.”

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the European Union, Trinidad and Tobago, Peter Cavendish, emphasised the Caribbean’s attractiveness to investors as a peaceful region with well-established democracies and highly talented populations.

Mr Cavendish added: “The Caribbean is composed of vibrant nations which are active in all of the major economic sectors…and the Caribbean nations’ policies are very naturally closely aligned with the EU’s policies in areas such as the Green deal, digitalisation, economic growth and resilience, and in defending common democratic values.

“The Caribbean also lies within the vast markets of North and South America and consider also their long associations with Europe, consider the linking of the Caribbean and the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean via the Panama Canal, through which a huge percentage of world trade passes.”

In her remarks at the launch, Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Paula Gopee-Scoon, welcomed the staging of CIF 2022.

“This Forum is truly a regional event,” Ms Gopee-Scoon stated. “It will have at its core the private sector and entrepreneurs whose ideas and expertise at capital will ultimately result in tangible, sustainable projects across the region.”

She further added: “The Caribbean Investment Forum is our window to the world and we look forward to welcoming investors and business executives who wish to strengthen and diversify their products…

“This Forum creates a very unique opportunity for investors to bring together capital with ideas and shovel-ready projects that will undoubtedly redound to the benefit of all of us. The Forum promises to be rich in its daily offerings given the stellar list of presenters and participants. The Caribbean is open for business, our teams are ready, and we look forward to welcoming all of you.”

CIF 2022 will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Trinidad and Tobago. It will feature a range of high-level presentations, panel discussions, roundtables, site visits, and networking opportunities under the theme ‘Building A SMARTer, GREENer, Caribbean’.

The Forum’s speakers will include Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, H.E. Wamkele Mene, Founding Managing Partner of Celesta Capital, Nicholas Brathwaite, Executive Director of Invest SVG, Annette Mark, and the President and Group Chief Executive Officer of Massy Holdings, Gervase Warner.

Billed as the “largest gathering of businesses since COVID-19’ in the region, CIF 2022 is being hosted by the Caribbean Export Development Agency in collaboration with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, CARICOM, the Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies and with the support of the European Union.

Visit the CIF 2022 website for more information and tickets –

Talent Scouts sing the praises of Caribbean Rhythm Showcase

KINGSTON, JAMAICA:  The international talent scouts and music industry executives invited to last weekend’s staging of Caribbean Rhythm Showcase are singing the praises of the latest initiative organised by Jamaican talent agency Headline Entertainment in cooperation with the Caribbean Export Development Company (Caribbean Export) and the European Union.

The event saw 20 artistes representing 10 Caribbean states being introduced to international music executives over a four-day period and also schooled on various critical elements of the music industry including publishing, royalties and the overall music business.

Now in its second year, the event culminated with a performance from the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica, which was live streamed for global viewing. Following the performance the artistes had a chance to meet with the talent scouts in  one-on-one sessions to discuss possible alliances.

For A&R consultant Cristy Barber, who is now based in Nashville in the United States, but no stranger to Jamaica, the event was truly a boon for the development of Caribbean artistes.

“First, I must say I would have paid to see this show.  This is such a brilliant idea I have never heard of anything like this, and these kids brought it tonight. I’m so honoured that I was flown in to be one of the executives. What I purposely did since I have been here with them over the past couple days, I didn’t research any of the talent, I just got to know them personally. When I tell you that every single one of them was lovely, it was fun to hang out with them. It is one of the most exciting things I have seen in Jamaica and I have done 30 years here. I have just been encouraging them to keep doing what they are doing. I hope that the international market now knows that the Caribbean market is not just soca, calypso or reggae, these kids just showed us their range and strengths in the different genres… this was amazing,” said Barber.

Those sentiments were echoed by international producer and songwriter Nikki Fernandez. She added that the whole Caribbean Rhythm Showcase experience served to highlight the strong talent pool that exists in the region.

“It was amazing! Spending time with these incredibly talented young people with old souls was just a blessing. I believe that all of them will find an opportunity somewhere, no matter what. They bring so much to the table as artists and talent. This was an amazing opportunity for everyone concerned. Hats off to Headline Entertainment and Caribbean Export for sharing something that has been absolutely incredible,” Fernandez noted.

Some of the artistes are being taken on by UK-based vocal coach Bashiyra, who was part of the panel assembled by the team from Headline Entertainment and Caribbean Export for this year’s event.

“There are some real jewels here.  My thing is really about the artiste honing their vocals and knowing how to deliver whether it is in a live setting or translating that into the studio and their audio recordings. I would just encourage each and every one of them to continue to pursue the dream. For me personally I know there are a number of these artists that I will be taking on and training with vocal lessons and stage craft,” Bashiyra stated.

Staying true to themselves as artists was the critical lesson coming from Tanya Lawson, director of marketing, Caribbean & gospel strategies at Audiomack in the United States.

For Lawson the cohort which participated in this year’s exercise demonstrated that the region is awash with talent and that there is more in Caribbean artistes than reggae, dancehall, soca and calypso.

“If we keep staging events like Caribbean Rhythm Showcase we can show the variety of artistes who can come out of the region.  Yes people already know that different types of artistes come out of the Caribbean, it’s just that they need to be given this type of spotlight. Look at Nicki Minaj, she’s from Trinidad, look at Rihanna, she’s from Barbados … Rihanna’s the largest pop star in the world right now and she started off with that niche Caribbean thing and now she’s switched over to pop.  So from seeing all this talent you know it can happen again.  Don’t stop being you and think you have to conform for America.  To crossover just be yourself and they will pick it up. Look at afrobeats.  They stayed themselves, stayed in their lane and the sound was heard all over the world.  But I was pretty impressed by everything that was on show here this year for the Caribbean Rhythm Showcase,” Lawson pointed out. The acts who participated in Caribbean Rhythm Showcase were Lex MD, Kraff, Indie Allen, and Pink Fox from Jamaica; the Dominican Republic’s Mariela ‘La Marimba’ Velazquez. Ava Symone Barrett and Khia ‘Keeya’ Poitier from The Bahamas; Trinidad and Tobago was represented by  Dania Duntin, Aisha Noel and Jiselle ‘Jiselle Singer’ Singh; Arien Seaton from Antigua and Barbuda; Rhea ‘SugahRhe’ Ellis from Barbados; Colton ‘Colton T’ Thomas from the Commonwealth of Dominica; Ryan ‘Riggy Atmosphere’ Riggs from Grenada; Erica Edwards from St Kitts and Nevis; Javid ‘Jay-R’ Rouse, Krystian Mark and Derron ‘Magikal’ Rouse from St Vincent and the Grenadines, Jesse ‘Justos’ Nelson from Saint Lucia; and Jackie ‘Jaxx’ Hanover from Guyana.

Le plus grand salon de l’alimentation au monde, le SIAL Paris 2022, sera la prochaine étape pour les entreprises des Caraïbes après une présentation impressionnante lors de l’événement commercial britannique.

  • Quatorze marques caribéennes exposeront au SIAL Paris 2022 sous le pavillon “Absolutely Caribbean”.
  • Le SIAL Paris 2022 fait suite au succès du stand des Caraïbes à la foire britannique Speciality & Fine Food.
  • Le SIAL est le plus grand salon bisannuel du monde, attirant 310 000 visiteurs de 200 pays.

La nourriture et les boissons des Caraïbes seront une fois de plus au menu lorsque 14 entreprises régionales se rendront en France du 15 au 19 octobre pour participer au plus grand salon agroalimentaire du monde, le SIAL Paris 2022.

Exposant sous le pavillon “Absolutely Caribbean” avec le soutien de l’Agence de développement des exportations des Caraïbes et de l’Union européenne, les marques caribéennes établies et émergentes auront l’occasion de nouer des contacts avec des milliers d’importateurs, de détaillants et d’acheteurs d’Europe, du Moyen-Orient, d’Afrique et d’Asie.

Certaines des entreprises qui se sont rendues à Paris ont également participé récemment à une exposition enrichissante et productive à la Speciality & Fine Food Fair (SFFF) à l’Olympia de Londres du 5 au 6 septembre, qui a généré plus de 70 pistes pour les producteurs participants, y compris un accord de distribution en attente en Irlande.

Le succès des entreprises régionales au SFFF a démontré l’intérêt croissant pour les aliments et les boissons des Caraïbes au Royaume-Uni et dans toute l’Europe, les consommateurs recherchant des produits plus naturels, plus sains et plus innovants.

Les entreprises qui participent au SIAL Paris 2022 sont ; Seules les noix de coco de Guyane, de Sainte-Lucie et d’Afrique du Sud sont acceptées. Cacoa Sainte Lucie et St Lucia Distillers, Choko Lakay d’Haïti, Coffee Roasters of Jamaica Ltd, Native Organics from the Bahamas, Belize’s Truly Turmeric, Sishado du Suriname, VincyFresh Ltd de St Vincent et les Grenadines, Flauriel de Saint-Kitts-et-Nevis, Superb Blend de la Barbade, Chicharon The World’s Cinnamon Rum de la République dominicaine et J&J Spirits, SRL et V’Toria Rhonda Vineyard & Winery de Trinidad et Tobago.

Ces entreprises caribéennes sont à l’avant-garde de certaines des tendances les plus avant-gardistes de l’industrie alimentaire, avec un accent particulier sur les profils de saveurs caribéennes uniques, les ingrédients naturels et indigènes, et les processus de production et de fabrication durables.

Le SIAL n’a pas eu lieu depuis octobre 2018 en raison de la pandémie de COVID-19, l’anticipation et l’excitation sont donc à leur comble pour tous les professionnels de l’industrie alimentaire qui espèrent trouver des produits savoureux, tendance et ayant une histoire captivante à raconter.

World’s biggest food fair ‘SIAL Paris 2022’ next stop for Caribbean businesses after impressive display at UK trade event

  • Fourteen Caribbean brands to exhibit at SIAL Paris 2022 under ‘Absolutely Caribbean’ pavilion.
  • SIAL Paris 2022 follows success of Caribbean stand at UK’s Speciality & Fine Food Fair.
  • SIAL is the world’s biggest biannual trade fair, attracting 310,000 visitors from 200 countries.

Caribbean food and drink will be on the menu once again as 14 regional businesses head to France from 15th-19th October to take part in the world’s biggest food tradeshow SIAL Paris 2022.

Exhibiting under the ‘Absolutely Caribbean’ pavilion with the support of the Caribbean Export Development Agency and the European Union, established and emerging Caribbean brands will get the chance to network and connect with thousands of importers, retailers and buyers from Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Some of the businesses travelling to Paris also recently took part in a rewarding and productive showing at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair (SFFF) at London’s Olympia from 5th-6th September, which generated over 70 leads for the participating producers, including a pending distribution deal in Ireland.

The success of regional businesses at SFFF demonstrated the growing interest in Caribbean food and drink in the UK and across Europe as consumers look for more natural, healthy, and innovative products.

The companies participating at SIAL Paris 2022 are; Only Coconuts from Guyana, St Lucia’s Cacoa Sainte Lucie and St Lucia Distillers, Choko Lakay from Haiti, Coffee Roasters of Jamaica Ltd, Native Organics from the Bahamas, Belize’s Truly Turmeric, Sishado from Suriname, VincyFresh Ltd from St Vincent and the Grenadines, Flauriel from St Kitts and Nevis, Superb Blend which is based in Barbados, The Dominican Republic’s Chicharon The World’s Cinnamon Rum and J&J Spirits, SRL and V’Toria Rhonda Vineyard & Winery from Trinidad and Tobago.

These Caribbean businesses are at the forefront of some of the most cutting edge trends in the food industry with a particular focus on unique Caribbean flavour profiles, natural and indigenous ingredients, and sustainable production and manufacturing processes.

SIAL has not been staged since October 2018 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so anticipation and excitement is at an all-time high for all the food industry professionals hoping to find products that are tasty, trendy, and with a captivating story to tell.