The final event of the CARIFORUM-EU 10th EDF Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme (CRIP) project “Capacity Building on Competition, Public Procurement and Customs and Trade Facilitation Project” took place on the 5th and 6th June, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. MSM was a partner in the consortium which implemented the project and responsible for coordinating the Competition component. Opening remarks at the conference were made by Trade Minister to Trinidad and Tobago, Paula Gopee-Scoon and EU Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Arend Biesebroek.
The Conference brought together representatives of all CARIFORUM Member States, the CARIFORUM Directorate and CARICOM Secretariat, Regional and International Experts, representatives of the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Commission of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, the CARICOM Competition Commission, the University of the West Indies (UWI), the Consortium Partners (Equinoccio, London School of Economics, Maastricht School of Management and SGS), as well as representatives of the European Union Delegations in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.
Prior to the closing conference, from the project start-up on December 14th 2014, 70 programs were completed with over 1700 public and private sector officials and professionals trained at different levels in the three areas covered by the project. The overall program included train-the-trainer courses, basic awareness raising training and advocacy, certificate and diploma programs as well as high level workshops. These programs have enhanced capacity in the region by enlarging the cohort of knowledgeable and skilled officials and professionals in the region. Also, post-graduate courses were developed in blended learning formats and incorporated into the Masters in Trade Policy (MITP) offered by the University of the West Indies, Shridath Ramphal Centre (SRC). These provide a sustainable contribution to continuing education and skills development in the three subject areas.
During the conference experts who were responsible for the design and delivery of the project’s capacity building programs that were conducted presented technical papers in each of the three thematic areas. These presentations highlighted gains that had been made as well as continuing needs for capacity enhancement and institutional development. As the project’s overarching goal was effective implementation of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership (EPA) agreement, papers focused on the progressive impact of this bilateral trade agreement and in particular the institutional development actions that will make it work for the region. Competition, Public Procurement and Customs and Trade Facilitation are seen to be vital chapters that can strengthen economic development by creating a positive business environment that promotes regional integration, ease of doing business, competitiveness, small and medium sized enterprise development, innovation and industrial strategy.