On 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. This time the topic of discussion was ‘Leveraging the Caribbean Diaspora for Post COVID-19 Trade and Recovery’ and was held online via Zoom teleconference.
Leading the discussion was a roundtable of Caribbean-born, diaspora-based trade and development professionals. 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 are assisting, their home countries in their recovery efforts. Finally, they also proposed several concrete ways in which Caribbean governments and the private sector could better engage and leverage the diaspora.
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. Among the proposals the panelists raised were expanding the types of investment vehicles available for the diaspora to invest in, improve the ease of doing business and access to information on any export restrictions, provide incentives for diaspora investment and making use of trade policy courses. 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.