With the global economy still in the firm grip of a deep recession but with financial institutions projecting an end to the crisis by 2010, questions abound for Caribbean and U.S. businesses which are reeling from its fall-out.
How strong would any recover be?
Should Jamaica, the Bahamas, Antigua, the Bahamas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, Barbados, St. Lucia, and their neighbors expect any turn around in their economic fortunes before the end of next year?
What about the upcoming 2009-2010 winter tourism season? How will the tourism-dependent destinations fare?
When the 14th Annual Caribbean Multi-National Business Conference is held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, November 5-8, hundreds of business executives and senior government officials from the United States and the Caribbean will search for answers to those key questions.
“Many on Wall Street in New York and economist at the leading international financial and development institutions are predicting a turn-around in the global economy, especially in the rich states such as the United States, Italy, France, Canada and the United Kingdom before the middle of next year. It is vital that the conference participants undertake a rigorous assessment of business and broad economic prospects in the U.S. and the Caribbean between now and the end of 2010 or even early 2011, ” said Karl Rodney, publisher of the New York Carib News. “It would certainly assist in the important planning process so that the countries would be ready for the post recession period.”
The Economist Intelligence Unit in London, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development with headquarters in Paris and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington believe growth should resume in the economies of the developed world, especially that of the United States by the end of this year. But they are not certain how strong the expansion would be. Just as important, they expect a time-lag between what happens in industrialized states and in the Caribbean.
“The key question for the Caribbean is when the region can expect to reap benefits from any recovery,” said Rodney. “Some say it would be by the end of 2010 at the earliest. We want to pay considerable attention to these issues so we help businesses and governments reach some conclusions about the future.”
Charlie Skeete, a former senior economic adviser at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington has pinpointed 2010 as the time when the economic picture in the region should begin to improve but he warned that would depend on the strength of the North American recovery.
Caribbean businesses from tourism, construction, financial services and manufacturing to agriculture and import-export trade have been hard hit as a result of a sharp drop in consumer spending; a fall-off in remittances; and a significant slowing down in the flow of foreign direct investment.
That’s why Jamaican government officials and private sector executives are said to be eager to participate in the conference discussions as well as to explore opportunities for joint venture partnerships with U.S. and Caribbean firms.
“We know from experience the value of the conference’s deliberations and the potential for establishing profitable commercial relationships,” said Ed Bartlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism. “We are eagerly looking forward to the sessions on tourism development, international trade, cross border investment and cultural industries. We in the Caribbean are feeling the full effects of the economic recession and this conference couldn’t have come at a better time.”
It is to be held at the Ritz Carlton Resort, Rose Hall.
Jamaica is among a handful of tourism destinations to record growth in arrivals in 2009. It will be the only Caribbean country to host the conference on three separate occasions in the last 14 years.
“Returning to Jamaica is like going back to one’s roots because the first conference was held in the country in 1995,” said Rodney.