T&T wants regional approach to changing global environment

Article in the Jamaica Observer
May 25, 2017

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands (CMC) — Trinidad and Tobago says there must be a concerted thrust for economic transformation in the Caribbean in order to be globally competitive. 
Addressing the 47th annual meeting of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Board of Governors, which ended here on Thursday, Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson Regis noted that the theme of “integration, trade and economic growth is a relevant and timely one for the region and for Trinidad and Tobago in particular.
 “I wish to underscore the importance of regional collaboration and integration as critical to overcoming the vulnerabilities that are inherent in our relatively small-sized individual economies,” she said, noting “in this regard, there must be a concerted thrust for economic transformation in order to be globally competitive and ensure the inclusion of all regional and national citizens.
 “Further, the socio-economic problems challenging member countries can only be addressed on the basis of regional co-operation and collaboration.”
Robinson-Regis said that with greater political uncertainties arising from global developments with respect to Brexit, the election of Donald J Trump as President of the United States and the rise of more nationalistic and protectionist opinions globally, “it is now important more than ever to pursue a more collaborative approach to regional development given the vulnerabilities of our small open economies”.
She said the region's response to Britain's decision to leave the European Union as well as its implications “should be undertaken with renewed energy and emphasis on regional integration.
“A united effort will better position the region to not only negotiate new trade agreements with the United Kingdom separately or within the Commonwealth but to also take advantage of the possible benefits emerging from Brexit.”
 She said that the ideology of the new Trump administration will have implications for the region, “which we cannot idly sit back and ignore but rather diligently seek to develop new approaches.
 “The issue of return migration is one that quickly comes to mind. Are we positioned as a region to deal with this prospective demographic change overtime? What will be the consequences for the global economy and for global trade in particular? As a region we need to prepare for this.
 “Ladies and Gentlemen, regional development cannot continue to be insular and take place in silos, but instead there must be a clear regional strategy in fostering greater co-operation in policymaking.”
 She said that the pursuit of more inclusive and sustainable growth will help to strengthen regional economies and mitigate, to some degree, certain external shocks.
 “For too long, we have eluded the finalisation of a regional strategy for economic development and with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs), our own course is, yet again being charted by externalities.”
 She said as the region moves towards celebrating the second anniversary of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September, “we must be reminded as a region of our commitments under the Agenda”.
 Robinson-Regis told the meeting that the Keith Rowley administration in Port of Spain has been making steady progress towards integration of the SDGs into the national development planning process.
 She said that the Draft National Development Strategy 2016-2030 (Vision 2030) for Trinidad and Tobago was recently laid before Parliament and it is geared towards providing a broad-based socio-economic development framework for oil-rich twin island republic based on fundamentals for development which includes strengthening of human capital, building a knowledge-based economy within a development context of good governance, strong infrastructure, information and communication technology (ICT) and environmental sustainability.
 She said that the National Development Strategy enables a development process, which is inclusive of the United Nations (UN) SDGs, adding that the five development themes and related outcomes for Trinidad and Tobago towards 2030 have been identified.
Robinson-Regis said that one of the themes “Putting People First – Nurturing Our Greatest Assets – speaks to the centrality of our people to the national development process and the importance of creating a more equitable and just society in which everyone is given the opportunity to contribute and to realise his or her full potential. It is connected to eight of the SDGs”.
 She said the other of “Delivering Good Governance and Service Excellence – speaks to the enhancement of governance structures that create the enabling environment for improving the quality of life of all citizens and is connected to four of the SDGs namely; peace, justice and strong institutions.”
 The Trinidad and Tobago minister said that “Building Globally Competitive Businesses” envisions that by building a global entrepreneurial and knowledge economy, “opportunities are created for all our people to prosper.
 “The intention is to maintain economic stability mainly by pursuing sound monetary and fiscal policy, promoting healthy trade and payments balances and taking the steps necessary to contain inflationary pressures.”
Robinson-Regis said that as a region, “we all share similar goals of ending poverty and hunger, reducing inequalities and protecting the environment among others.
“The global adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development presents an opportunity to re-establish and reaffirm our responsibility to hasten the achievement of the internationally established development goals, through concentrated and coherent actions in our thrust towards sustainable development,” she said, noting the relevance of the Barbados-based CDB to a highly dynamic global environment.

A video of the presentation can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uhn3Jk0mdZ4