Boosting growth in the Caribbean will be the paramount goal of a new international initiative launched today. The Caribbean Growth Forum (CGF) is a new platform for dialogue to foster higher levels of economic growth with opportunities for all. The CGF is a partnership between the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), with support from the United Kingdom Department For International Development (DFID) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
The CGF will build on existing partnerships and involve stakeholders from the public and private sectors, academia and civil society, as well as the Caribbean diaspora. We want to facilitate a Caribbean-led transformational dialogue generating fresh thinking on innovation-based growth-oriented policies, said Françoise Clottes, World Bank director for the Caribbean. The forum will draw from practical development initiatives and research to address cross-cutting regional challenges, such as studies on how to enhance the business environment for existing and new investors in the Caribbean, proposals to unleash stronger competition, policy options to reduce public debt, and analyses to improve transportation logistics in the region.
Accelerating and sustaining inclusive growth is arguably one of the most pressing development challenges preoccupying the regions leadership today. The CGF offers an exciting and innovative platform for networking and open exchange of ideas on constructive ways to address this challenge, highlighted Warren Smith, president of the CDB. Caribbean countries face many common challenges, such as frequent natural disasters, a small size and lack of economies of scale, as well as vulnerability to external shocks.
Economic growth has been structurally low in the region, and most countries experienced a significant economic contraction due to the 2008 global financial crisis. In contrast to Latin America, which grew by 6% in 2011, Caribbean countries only grew by an average of 2.3 percent. Caribbean economies also face serious debt challenges. Public debt-to-GDP ratios have reached 100 percent in a number of countries in the past few years. The CGF, which is a one-year initiative, will facilitate the sharing of knowledge and ideas on policies to stimulate sustainable and inclusive growth and job creation.
Caribbean countries need to reposition their economies to face emerging challenges in an increasingly integrated global economy, said Kurt Focke, division chief of the Capital Markets and Financial Institutions Division and chairman of the Compete Caribbean Program, Inter-American Development Bank. The region has done well in capitalizing on its natural endowment and geographic location to generate growth but needs to transition from natural resource-based growth to innovation-based growth.
The IDB, the World Bank and the CDB will sign an agreement formalizing their collaboration during the CDB Board Meetings on May 24, 2012, in the Cayman Islands. The first regional conference of the CGF will be held June 18-19 in Jamaica, followed by the Digital Jam 2.0 event from June 28-30 that will focus on youth and jobs in the information and communications technologies sector.
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