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Foreign Direct Investment in the Caribbean

with the support of the IDB

On November 17th and 18th, 2014, approximately 35 representatives from the investment promotion agencies (IPAs) in the Caribbean and regional bodies focused on collating and monitoring foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into the region, met in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, to discuss and agree a common strategy to improve the positioning of the region as a destination of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and to present the Caribbean as a, though geographically spread out, single investment destination, enhancing regional integration efforts that are underway in the Caribbean at the level of CARIFORUM [1].

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is providing financing under a Regional Public Goods Programme (RPG) that will be managed by Caribbean Export Development Agency [2] in its capacity as the Secretariat for the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA) [3]. The IADB has provided US$900.000 to CAIPA to support several initiatives geared towards increasing FDI into the Caribbean and will be implemented over a 2 year period. These initiatives include the build-out of an investment opportunities atlas for the Caribbean, providing information on the projects and sectors in the region that are ready for investment, the development of an intra-regional investment programme, the procurement of a client relationship management system for the region’s IPAs and good practices missions, exposing the IPAs to improved methods of investment promotion.

“Data poor” region

The Caribbean has been described as a ‘data poor” region and several development policies have been implemented by governments and other entities in the absence of reliable and consistent information. The result has been the articulation of economic growth plans in the region without the ability to measure the proximity to the goals that have been set. This dearth of data extends to regional information on FDI and is evidenced in the national, regional and international publications on FDI flows into the region, where very little is mentioned on the Caribbean.

Why attracting FDI in the Caribbean?

Investments in the Caribbean are a significant source of bolstering domestic capital, productivity, employment and skills transfer, which are crucial to increasing economic growth. The development of policies to attract increasing flows of FDI, of necessity, requires accurate information on the “state of play” or the past and present flows. Without reliable FDI data, the task of promoting the Caribbean for investment and the development of strategies to improve the attractiveness of the region to investors becomes daunting. Collected, homogenous, reliable, updated and transparent information is fundamental to create a data driven market approach to attract and generate new investments.

The Caribbean region has been significantly affected by the recent economic crisis and has been slower than other regions to recover from its effects. As a direct result of the foregoing, several investment promotion agencies (IPAs) in the Caribbean have seen their budgets for investment promotion initiatives cut as governments reduce spending in an effort to resolve fiscal imbalances. The level of development, strategy, institutional capacity, human resources and budget of the national IPAS in the region varies substantially.

The countries in the region are homogenous in terms of the challenges they face in the attraction of FDI and several of these challenges can be more effectively addressed on a regional scale with ensuing benefits such as economies of scale in the use of resources.

The meeting in Santo Domingo to discuss the strategic plan to position the Region is the second of these series of initiatives. The event brought together delegates from the IPAs of Barbados, Bahamas, Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Curacao, the Cayman Islands and Suriname.


[1] The Forum of the Caribbean Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States (CARIFORUM) is the body that comprises Caribbean ACP States for the purpose of promoting and coordinating policy dialogue, cooperation and regional integration.

[2] Caribbean Export is a regional export development and trade and investment promotion organisation of the Forum of Caribbean States (CARIFORUM) currently executing the Regional Private Sector Programme (RPSDP) funded by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Caribbean Export’s mission is to increase the competitiveness of Caribbean countries by providing quality export development and trade and investment promotion services through effective programme execution and strategic alliances.

[3] The Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA) is an umbrella organization of investment promotion agencies in CARIFORUM as well as Curacao, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Association is dedicated to the strengthening of its members and the promotion of the region as an ideal location for investment. Caribbean Export serves as the Secretariat for CAIPA.

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