Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 12th 2015 Contents BG6 COVER STORY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt MARCH 2015 • WEEK TWO
Foreign investors encounter many challenges when investing
in the Caribbean region, says Massy Group president Gervase
He says the small size of the region's economies makes
them "insignificant" and the economies of scale are not there
to attract large-scale investments from outside the region.
"From the perspective of opportunities for growth, we in
the Massy Group see the English-speaking Caribbean as being
limited for potential growth. For us, it is important to look
beyond the region. I think more and more we find it difficult
for us to grow here. If we have a presence in a territory, it
makes sense to stay but to get into a new market in the region
is something else," he said.
Warner was speaking at a round-table discussion last week
on the opening day of the Caribbean Investment and Finance
Forum conference hosted by Latin Finance and the T&T Inter-
national Financial Centre (TTIFC) at the Hyatt Regency Hotel,
That round-table discussion was moderated by Taimur
Ahmad, CEO, Latin Finance.
The key is to
Trade Minister Vasant Bharath---who also spoke during the
round-table discussion---responded to what Warner said by
saying that the Caribbean territories are all at different stages
of development and T&T may not necessarily fall into the
same category with some other islands in the region.
"Each country has its level of ambition. When I am selling
T&T, it is not only the population of this country but the 600
million people on our doorsteps. I am selling T&T's access to
Central and South America, many of which we have bi-lateral
agreements that allow us access to those markets.
"We in T&T believe we have an advantage over many of
our neighbours. There is tourism, manufacturing, agro-pro-
cessing and other opportunities for investment," he said.
In responding to Warner, Bharath also said another key in
T&T becoming a source for foreign investment is it becoming
Warner had complained about how difficult doing business
is in many of the Caribbean territories because of bureaucra-
"Economies of scale are very important and Warner just
spoke about how small some of the markets are. Bureaucracy
is one of the major problems in T&T and the Caribbean. We
inherited it from the old English civil service and many of
those procedures have remained with us to this day," Bharath
To get around some of these challenges, Warner suggested
that business leaders become more involved in regional inte-
"The business class should take the lead instead of relying
on Caricom heads of state. In the past, and even now, we the
business class do not get together to discuss these regional
agendas. For example, the regional stock exchange. These are
the things we should get in on and connect the dots," Warner
Bharath added to this by admitting that many times, the
political leaders of the region take decisions that are only in
their interest at that point in time, and business leaders usually
have longer-term interest in the region's development.
"In the private sector you have a commonality of interests.
The private sector has the power to wield a lot of what happens.
However, the region's politicians only work within five-year
cycles," he said.
Mark Beer, CEO and registrar, Dubai International Financial
Centre (DIFC) Courts, during a round-table discussion on the
second day of the conference, used the example of how an
oil producer like Dubai was able to diversify its economy.
He also said T&T could learn from their experience.
"There were trillions of dollars in Middle Eastern money
outside the Middle East. The banks initially said there were
not interested as they were already in Singapore, New York,
London, Hong Kong and Sydney. Then there was the Arabic
"Look at Dubai now. In 2010, the IFC contributed 3.6 per
cent of Dubai's economy. Three years later, it was 12 per cent.
That is 12 per cent of US$100 billion so that means the IFC's
contribution is now US$12 billion to its economy. Four thousand
people live and work in the financial sector. All of the top
banks in the world are there. Six out of the top ten insurance
companies in the world are there. Seven of the top ten law
firms in the world are in that financial centre."
Beer added that the IFC has transformed Dubai's society.
"So from a startup, it has delivered tangibles such as jobs,
brought opportunities, provided more wealth for the society
and those are some of the benefits," he said.
He also called "nonsensical" those people who say Dubai
and some other Middle Eastern countries are successful because
of their "authoritarian" and their non-Western political systems
which allow a strong leader to dictate easily how economic
"It has nothing to so with how the society is constructed,
whether Toronto has one model or Hong Kong another model.
Dubai's model was about vision and leadership. If a system
has this, it will deliver," he said.
He said if an IFC benefits T&T and the Caribbean region
how can it be a bad thing.
"If it creates opportunities for people for the work of the
people of T&T and the Caribbean, how can it be a bad thing?
If you create the environment for success, then everything
else will fall into place," he said.
Why Canada's IFC
Janet Ecker, president and CEO of Toronto Financial Services
Alliance, who also took part in that round table, said their IFC
is the second largest in North America and gave some examples
about why it have been successful.
She said public private partnership is important and is one
of the reasons Canada remained "unscathed" during the world
"This is important between the Government and financial
industry. Around our table we have representatives from our
Government, and the entire financial industry in Toronto is
Caribbean Investment and Finance Forum 2015 round-up
Continued on Page 7
Links Archive March 11th 2015 March 13th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page