The Caribbean Region represents a market of about 24 million people who collectively import over $18.5 billion of U.S. goods. As a result, the region is the 3rd largest export market for U.S. manufactured goods in Latin America, behind Mexico and Brazil.
Beside being the 3rd largest US export market in the region, below are a few additional reasons why one should consider doing business in the caribbean:
1. Cooperative Trade Relationship – Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI)
The Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) was initially launched in 1983, and substantially expanded in 2000. It established trade programs to facilitate the economic development and export diversification of the Caribbean economies.
US exports to the CBI countries have more than tripled since 1983, from $6.5 billion to over $25 billion as of 2002. Most importantly, the CBI provides beneficiary countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for most goods.
2. Close Proximity to U.S. & Canada
Tied together by geography, history and culture, the Caribbean Region is a natural commercial partner of the United States and Canada. That’s beneficial to import/export business for reasons such as freight cost and guarantee of always finding a niche market.
3. Regional Integration – CARICOM
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is an organization of Caribbean countries that started in July 1973. It promotes economic integration and cooperation among its twenty members. Also, in 2006 twelve of the twenty members signed the Single Market and Economy (CSM) treaty. The treaty establishes deeper regional integration through harmonized tariffs and duty free trade.
4. Work-Life Balance
Work-life is a key ingredient to happy life, but extremely difficult to achieve. The Caribbean offers an environment that facilitates maintaining a balance between your work, the people and other things that are important to you. It’s not that people don’t work hard, but rather the pace of life and a relatively lower cost of living enable someone to both work hard and have a social life.
5. Push for Energy Sustainability in the Region
The Caribbean nations have all the incentives and resources to generate 100% of their energy from renewable sources. Petroleum is scarce in the region, it’s expensive to import, and renewable energy resources such as solar, wind and geothermal are plentiful. However, the Caribbean is still using imported oil or diesel for close to 90 percent of its energy use.
Cost has always been the main factor keeping investors and developers cautious about entering the Caribbean renewable energy market. Small economies mean that in most cases countries have difficulty financing renewable energy projects that require high upfront capital.
Therefore, over the past few years organizations such as the Caribbean Development Bank, CARICOM, USAID and the World Bank have engaged in helping remove barriers through specific actions to overcome policy and finance challenges.
During the last Renewable Energy Conference, the Executive Director of the Caribbean Export, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, urged that transition to renewable energy solutions becomes a priority in the Caribbean. She stated that “it’s time for the region to move beyond simply writing energy policies to translating them into legislations.”
With the current focus on renewable energy in the Caribbean, it has become much easier for businesses owning operations in the region to generate their energy from renewable energy sources. Below are Some Renewable Energy programs/projects in the Caribbean: