On Wednesday, July 15, 2020, the Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy & Services of The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados hosted its latest SRC Lunch Time Chat – a roundtable discussion on ‘Leveraging the Caribbean Diaspora for Post COVID-19 Trade and Recovery’. The webinar, which was held via Zoom teleconference, attracted participants from across the Caribbean and the world, and included academics, civil servants, policy makers, development professionals and students.
Leading the discussion was an expert panel of Caribbean-born, diaspora-based professionals whose rich backgrounds spanned the areas of trade, finance, diplomacy, export promotion, development and management consulting. They were Mr. David Gomez (Director of The Ramphal Institute of the Commonwealth, UK), Mrs. Paula Hippolyte-Bauwens (Consultant on EU / Development cooperation affairs, Brussels, Belgium, EU), Mr. Kevin Howell (CEO Anchor Group NA Corp, USA) and Mr. Dav-Ernan Kowlessar (Executive Director of Dykon Developments, Trinidad & Tobago and Canada). The session was moderated by Miss Alicia Nicholls, Trade Researcher with the SRC.
During the hour and a half long session, the panelists gave their insights on how the Caribbean diaspora has been faring and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in their adopted homes. The panelists also offered their perspectives on how the diaspora could assist, and is assisting, their home countries in their recovery efforts. The panelists all agreed that the diaspora had much more to offer than simply monetary support, but also brought considerable networks, knowledge, mentoring and know-how.
Finally, they also proposed several concrete ways in which Caribbean governments could better engage and leverage the diaspora as they seek to rebuild their economies, attract FDI and stimulate exports. Among the proposals the panelists raised were defining clearly who is the diaspora, getting to know the diaspora better, expanding the types of investment vehicles available for the diaspora to invest in, improving the ease of doing business and access to information on any export restrictions, and providing incentives for diaspora investment. The panelists also praised the Barbados Government’s latest initiative to allow persons to work remotely from Barbados.
The SRC extends its appreciation to the expert panelists, and to the audience members who attended and shared their questions and perspectives via the Chat.
The recording from the session is available below. See this and past SRC Lunch Time chats and events on our SRC Video Gallery.