Launch of the Caribbean Investment Forum 2023 Unveils a Visionary Era for Caribbean Development

The Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) 2023, kicked off with a grand launch event at Atlantis in the picturesque Bahamas, setting the stage for what is expected to be a transformative platform for businesses, investments, and strategic alliances across the Caribbean region. Moderated by Anastarcia Palacios, the launch event featured distinguished leaders, insightful presentations, and a clear vision for the future of Caribbean trade and investment.

Presented through the collaborative efforts of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, the European Union, the Government of the Bahamas, the CARICOM Secretariat, and the Caribbean Development Bank, CIF is a significant milestone for Caribbean businesses.

Under the theme “A Bold New Caribbean,” CIF has directed its focus toward critical areas to Caribbean development, including Agriculture Technology, renewable energy, digital business (e-commerce, innovation, and FinTech), and Logistics and Transport.

Deodat Maharaj, the Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, set the tone for the event, emphasizing CIF as the preeminent gathering of businesses and investors in the Caribbean for this year. “The Caribbean Export mantra is less talk and more business, and this will be the basis of CIF 2023 as we seek to drive a truly transformational agenda for our region with business playing a central leadership role to create jobs and opportunity for our people.”

Mr. Maharaj delved into the crucial imperative of transitioning toward a green economy and the transformative possibilities it holds for a region grappling with climate vulnerabilities and significant debt. He expounded, “What is not spoken about enough are the potential opportunities for the growth of the private sector in a green economy transition…it was estimated that decarbonisation will help create approximately 400,000 jobs”

CIF was designed as a catalyst for change and opportunity; a vehicle to fast track Caribbean development and reshape the region’s future. Chair of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, Dr. Lynette Holder highlighted that the event “symbolizes a remarkable shift in our collective approach to securing the vital investments required for the economic development and diversification of our cherished region” in her remarks.

The Honorable Chester Cooper, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Aviation, and Investments, introduced the distinguished Prime Minister of the Bahamas, The Honourable Philip Edward Brave Davis. As the head of state for the CIF Host Country, Prime Minister Davis extended a gracious welcome to the attendees and highlighted investment prospects in the Caribbean, with a particular spotlight on the Bahamas.

He applauded the potential in sectors such as tourism, energy, logistics, agriculture, and financial services, articulating what renders the Bahamas an attractive investment destination, including a skilled workforce, strategic proximity to the United States, and tax-neutral status.

Dr. Carla N. Barnett, Secretary General of the CARICOM Secretariat, underscored the monumental significance of CIF in forging strategic alliances and channeling investments for the Caribbean’s prosperity. Emphasizing the imperative of fostering a conducive business environment and attracting both intra-regional and foreign investments to fuel sustainable economic growth. Dr. Barnett urged attendees to harness the full spectrum of opportunities the Caribbean offers. “As we gather here on this momentous occasion, I implore each and every one of you to use this opportunity as the first step in a bigger plan. Build the relationships that will make lasting change. Network with intent. Ensure the full gamut of opportunities the Caribbean has to offer is on display.“

Her Excellency Marianne Van Steen, Ambassador to the Bahamas, Belize, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, highlighted the robust partnership between the Caribbean and the European Union. In her Remarks, Her Excellency Van Steen, reinforced the critical importance of the European Union’s Global Gateway Strategy, aimed at bridging the investment divide and fortifying transformative investments, especially in clean and sustainable energy, transport infrastructure, and digital transformation. Further, the Amb shared that “the upcoming signature in Barbados, next month, of an agreement between the European Union and Caribbean Export, whereby the EU will provide a grant of EUR 8 million to support Caribbean businesses in their digital transformation, green transition, improve access to finance, and in supporting them navigate the EPA. This builds on the over EUR 50 million the EU has provided to Caribbean Export over the past decade.”

Director of Projects at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Therese Turner-Jones, emphasized the need for partnerships, investment in infrastructure, and a new mindset for the Caribbean region. Referencing the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the region she shared “…we need to think big—if we learned anything from the last three years living through a pandemic—the lesson must be that there is no more business as usual.”

Sessions, meetings and pitches for the 2023 Caribbean Investment Forum start tomorrow October 24th, 2023, where hundreds of attendees come together with an emphasis on action, collaboration, and the pursuit of transformative investments that will drive the Caribbean’s growth and prosperity.

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