Caribbean governments were on Wednesday urged to participate in a business development and investment promotions trip to China this Fall as the curtains came down on the Avalon Invest Caribbean Now Forum in New York City.
The invitation was extended by Li Li, managing Director of the Chinese American Business Development Center, and seconded by the Consul in charge of economic & commercial affairs of the Consulate General of China in New York,
Xiaoguang Liu; and Johnny Liu of the American Chinese Commerce Development Association. The three were part of a panel on 'China and the Caribbean' at ICN 2013, which came on the heels of Chinese President's Xi Jinping first visit to the Caribbean island of Trinidad on May 31st and his pledge of more than $3 billion in loans to 10 Caribbean nations and Costa Rica on June 2nd.
"The Chinese private sectors are seeking opportunities in the Caribbean such as hospitality, real estate, healthcare and education industry because they are easy to operate, are transparent and create jobs," Li told the packed room at the Radisson Martinique Hotel Wednesday.
She said the Caribbean, located in the centre of the Americas, provides the advantage of easy access to markets in the North, South and Central America and serves as a bridge to the markets in Europe.
Citing statistics that said up to 100 million Chinese will be travelling abroad by 2015, Li said the time was right for the Caribbean to target this key demographic, especially since the Chinese consumer works hard and has spending power and "the Caribbean has garnered critical acclaim as a Mecca for tourism with significant investments in that and related sectors."
Li also pointed to figures that showed the Chinese outbound travel market will be $590 billion by 2020.
The panel was presented by the Sino-American Friendship Association, (SAFA) and supported by The Chinese American Business Development Center, (CABDC) and the American Chinese Commerce Development Association, (ACCDA). Arthur Piccolo of the New Sports Group moderated the forum.
Meanwhile, Anthony Eterno, of the Caribbean Affairs Office of the Western Hemisphere Division in the US State Department, in his speech on the "US' views on Investing In The Caribbean," insisted that the U.S. Obama administration remains committed to an economic partnership with the region that stimulates growth.
And in opening remarks, ICN Founder and CMO of Hard Beat Communications, Felicia Persaud, urged Caribbean governments to do more to "tell and sell" the diverse Caribbean investment story to the right people because the region "is relevant" despite what the naysayers may claim.
"We are relevant when 11 Caribbean nations are in the top 100 when it comes to ease of doing business but only seven for Latin America and eight for Africa," said Persaud. "We are relevant when eight nations in the Caribbean are ranked in the top 100 fastest growing economies globally compared to 10 for Latin America as of 2012 ... a difference of two ... and we are relevant when the world's richest man invests Caribbean."
Over twelve dozen delegates attended the Avalon Invest Caribbean Now Forum at the Radisson Martinique Hotel in mid-town, Manhattan, including Premier of the Turks & Caicos Islands, Dr. Rufus Ewing and his Minister of Finance C. Washington Misick; Minister of Tourism & International Transport, International Trade, Industry, Commerce & Consumer Affairs St. Kitts, Ricky Skerritt; Minister for Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries, St. Lucia, Lorne Theophilus; Minister of Tourism Nevis, Mark Brantley; Minister of Tourism of Antigua & Barbuda, John Maginley; Minister of Tourism, Sports & Culture, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Cecil McKie; Assemblyman Tracy Davidson-Celestine, Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary, Division of Tourism and Transportation, Tobago; Nicolaas Sneek, Commissioner, St. Eustacius; Minister of Tourism of The Bahamas, Obie Wilchcombe and Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, and Commissioner of the United States Virgin Islands, Beverly Nicholson Doty.
Speakers and presenters included Miguel Reyna, director, Port Business Development and Asset Management, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.; Heather Flossiac of Belle Vue Properties of St. Lucia; E. Jay Saunders, CEO of Digicel TCI; Brian Lilly, founder of One Caribbean Television and Ganesh Ramanathan, creative director at Hard Beat Communications; Dr. Grace Lappin of Avalon Partners, Inc. And Arthur Piccolo of the Bowling Green Association.
The "ICN 2013 Corporate Leadership Award" was presented to Royal Caribbean International.
In brief remarks, Adam Goldstein, President and CEO of RCCL, said "The Caribbean has been the heart and soul of who we are and where we go for over 40 years, and we are honored to receive the 2013 'Invest Caribbean Now Corporate Leadership Award" as our goal is to continue to work closely with the Caribbean so that their ability to retain and attract cruise ships remains as strong and robust as ever and we look forward to being a leader and working to help recognize the region's value."
Mike Ronan, vice president of government relations for the Caribbean, Latin America & Asia at RCCL, represented Golstein at the event and accepted the prestigious award that is given to one individual or corporation each year for their above par investments in the region.
Invest Caribbean Now is organized annually by The Caribbean Tourism Organization and digital media solutions company, Hard Beat Communications, during Caribbean Week in New York. The event is the brain child of Persaud and is now in its third year.
Kara Coleman, news anchor of One Caribbean Television emceed the forum which was sponsored by Avalon Partners; The Turks & Caicos Islands Investment Agency; Royal Caribbean Cruise, Ltd; One Caribbean Television, The Chinese American Business Development Center, the American Chinese Commerce Development Association and No-Jet-Lag.
2013 media partners included the PR Newswire, CaribPR Wire, News Americas Now, WINN FM of St. Kitts, South Florida Caribbean, Caribseek, Antigua Tribune, Bahamas Spectator, Barbados Gazette, British Caribbean News, Caribbean ET Roundup, Caribbean Financials, Cuba Chronicle, Dominica Gazette, Dominican Republic Post, Dutch Caribbean News, French Caribbean News, Grenada Chronicle, Guyana Inquirer, Haiti Gazette, Jamaica Inquirer, Puerto Rico Tribune, St. Kitts Gazette, St. Lucia Chronicle, St. Vincent Tribune, Trinidad Tribune, the Bajan Reporter, The Bahamas Weekly and Bahamas Local.
For more including additional photos and videos of the speeches and presentations stay logged on to InvestCaribbeanNow.com.