Top Business Interests from Central America and Caribbean Gather in OAS/Trinidad and Tobago Hosted Meeting

OAS News…May 17 2012 — More than sixty business leaders from Central America and the Caribbean met this week in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago to discuss new opportunities for partnerships and expanding business between the two regions, as well as challenges to trade.

Taking part in the closed door meetings were representatives of top conglomerates, public and private companies, business families, and government representatives and ministers, including Alberto Alemán Zubieta, CEO of the Panama Canal Authority, Representatives of the Ansa McAl Group, Neal and Massy Holdings, Guardian Holdings, Demerara Distillers, Grupo Unicomer, Cabcorp and Bridgestone, as well as regional airlines, manufacturers, producers associations and banks. Also present at the meeting were the Secretaries General of Central American Integration System (SICA), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).

The gathering, which represented billions of dollars in business interests from both regions, was also addressed by the President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli.

Convened by the Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Albert Ramdin, and hosted by the government of Trinidad and Tobago through the Minister of Trade and Industry Stephen Cadiz, the meeting identified opportunities for investment and partnerships in several countries. Obstacles to business, including transnational business registration laws, visa restrictions, port congestion problems, taxes, duties and tariffs were also discussed.

Minister Cadiz said of the meeting, “This gathering proves that investment capital is available, so options and opportunities must be generated. We are, therefore making a solid commitment to working together to overcome these challenges to business. We need to do more and smarter business in this current global economic environment.”

Assistant Secretary General Ramdin said the vision behind the meeting is to use international trade and business diplomacy to “generate more opportunities for employment, increase earning potential, economic growth, alleviate poverty, and improve security.” According to Ramdin, “If we hope to improve the quality of life for citizens of both regions, we need to be practical and proactive. Central America and the Caribbean face similar challenges. If businesses succeed in these regions, it means a better standard of life for people.”

The first meeting of CEOs of both regions was held in El Salvador last year, and resulted in the strengthening of business partnerships and new investments. The Port of Spain meeting is expected to result in more strategic investments. The government of Guatemala has invited Assistant Secretary General Ramdin to host the next meeting in that country.

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