The World Bank and IFC, in partnership with the Australian Agency for International Development and the Canadian International Development Agency, hosted an international event in Puerto Rico this week to exchange ideas and find solutions to strengthen trade logistics, port operations, and regional integration in the Caribbean.
The international “Improving regional integration in the Caribbean through trade logistics reform” event brought together participants from more than 30 countries, including senior representatives from port authorities, border clearance agencies, and the private sector, all seeking to identify ways to promote competitiveness and greater regional integration in the Caribbean.
“IFC is committed to promoting economic growth and regional integration in the Caribbean,” said Alvaro Quijandría, IFC regional manager for investment climate in Latin America and the Caribbean. “With this program we are seeking to facilitate access to global markets and lower the high trade-logistics costs that are still a challenge for businesses in the region.”
Caribbean islands face unique challenges: they are net importers, shipping costs are high, economies of scale are limited, and the cost of doing business hinders the region’s competitiveness, said Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock, whose office co-hosted the event.
The two-day event that wrapped up Tuesday provided a forum for practitioners to discuss these issues, propose ideas for tackling them, and develop clear options for reform.
The two-day event, which is part of the IFC Trade Logistics project in the English-speaking Caribbean islands, also drew the support of the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security, the Treasury Department, and the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce.