We were delighted to welcome British High Commissioners from Guyana, Barbados and Eastern Caribbean, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago and Belize as well as the Governor of Bermuda to the panel. We were joined by over 50 companies in different sectors as diverse as infrastructure, renewable energy, shipping and food exports.
Each High Commissioner gave a brief overview of the main business opportunities in the countries they covered and the challenges which were also present. The following themes emerged:
- Resilient infrastructure; increasing frequency of extreme weather events resulting from climate change means that the region as a whole needs to upgrade its critical infrastructure to be prepared to bounce back from hurricanes as quickly as possible. The theme is to “build back better” and to also improve preparedness through uses of innovative improved weather forecasting etc.
- Renewable energy; the region is seeking to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels and is investing heavily in all types of renewable including hydro, geothermal, solar, wind and waste to energy.
- Oil and Gas; With the discovery of an estimated 5.5bn barrels of recoverable oil and gas in offshore Guyana, there are huge new opportunities there in oil and gas and all other sectors of the economcy; there is also exploration underway in Jamaica; and the opportunity to provide goods and service to a long-term industry player in Trinidad and Tobago.
The economic outlook for the region varied substantially from country to country with Jamaica recording very positive growth figures and fast improving employment figures and Guyana’s economy already beginning to see wage and property price increases as a result of the oil industry presence. Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, both which had until recently been suffering a pronounced economic downturn were both beginning to turn around. In Trinidad, this was the result of a recovery of the oil and gas price, and in Barbados it was the result of the economic reforms ushered in under the new administration led by Barbados’ first ever female Prime Minister Mia Mottley MP.