It’s too early to say whether or what effect the election of Donald Trump as the next US President will have on Mexico’s trade relations with Washington. Trump has also said nothing about US trade ties to Brazil and nothing either about his immediate plans for recent openings for more US trade with Cuba under the outgoing Obama administration.
But long before his surprise election, Brazil, Cuba and Mexico had started taking steps to consolidate their ties with their other closest neighbors – The Caribbean. With Caribbean economies still reeling under pressure from domestic and external difficulties and the international financial agencies predicting growth rates that will be too low to address regional unemployment, regional
states are looking beyond their borders and embracing new initiatives closer to home.
The November neighborly outreach is taking place at a time when Latin American states are also looking for new South-South business and investment arrangements, as global and regional political and economic climate changes force Latin America and the Caribbean to look much closer at ways and means of finding 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, trade investment and cooperation.
A particular Brazilian business pivot to the smaller English-speaking Eastern Caribbean islands is under way just as Cuba and Mexico are looking as well to CARICOM and OECS, as well as 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 Saint 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 attended the Havana event.
Brazil-OECS Business Forum, organized by the Brazilian Embassy in Saint Lucia with the government’s leading investment agency Invest saint Lucia (ISL) and the OECS Commission, will start before and run alongside a similar mission mounted by Mexico at just about the same time next week.
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” will be held from November 16 to 18.
But the Mexican Forum will not be held within the Caribbean island chain. Instead, it will take place at the Peninsula Convention Center in Cancun.
This event has been described by the embassy as “the most important business forum in the Greater Caribbean” and it is designed to foster regional economic development and competitiveness by increasing trade and investment flows.
But the Brazilian Entrepreneurial Mission, which will come from five top Brazilian Federal states and includes at least one Federal parliamentarian with business responsibilities, is seeking to attract Brazilian businesses, not only to Saint Lucia but all six OECS islands.
During their visit to Saint Lucia, the Brazilians will also meet with the OECS Business Council, while at the same time engaging their Saint Lucian counterparts in discussions on joint investment and other forms of business cooperation.
Yet the Brazilians will not only be ensconced in hotels and business centres in the island’s busy north. They will also visit top award-winning tourism attractions in the island’s west coast tourism capital, Soufriere, home of the the Pitons, and the world award winning Jade Mountain, Anse Chastanet and Ladera Resorts.
They will also visit the west coast village of canaries, where resident CEO of the British Caribbean Chamber of Commerce Joseph Kennedy is behind the construction of the new Belvedere hotel.
By the time the investors start their business talks in Cancun, the Brazilians in Saint Lucia would have participated in the November 14 Business Forum in Saint Lucia, at which three of the island’s cabinet ministers will speak, along with ISL and OECS officials, about doing business with Saint Lucia and the OECS.
Saint Lucian businesses that participated in Cuba’s FIHAV 2016 have also been invited to the November 11-17 Brazilian-OECS Business Forum in Castries.