Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, says that space exists to develop trade and Japanese investment in the services industries in the Caribbean.
Browne identified these as tourism, financial services and technology in addressing the opening ceremony of the CARICOM-Japan Summit in Trinidad and Tobago on Monday.
The Antigua and Barbuda leader commended Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his government’s efforts to increase trade around the world, according to an Antigua and Barbuda Government statement.
Browne also referred to the beneficial effect the efforts have had on Japan’s economy and on trade partners as well.
“Over the 10-year-period, 2003-2012, Japan has enjoyed a significant trade surplus with our member-states collectively,” he said. “In 2012 alone, Japan’s trade surplus with our sub-region was US$621 million.”
Browne also outlined CARICOM’s desire to explore ways in which Japan might effectively address the matter through aid-for-trade mechanisms or greater investment in the sub-region.
The CARICOM chairman also suggested to the Japanese Prime Minister ways Japan can assist CARICOM in boosting the economies, highlighting investment by the Japanese private sector as one of the areas.
“There are many opportunities that could be mutually beneficial. For instance, CARICOM countries are very keen to pursue renewable energy options, including solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, and bio-energy — all of which lend themselves to public sector-private sector partnerships,” he said.
“As a world leader in energy conservation through the development of new energy technologies, Japan could provide tremendous support to CARICOM in building capacity in renewable energy technologies,” he added.
In 2011, the CARICOM road transportation sector consumed up to 65 percent of energy imports at a cost of approximately US$2 billion, Browne said, adding that it is believed that Japan is a leading supporter of fuel-cell vehicles, which can run five times longer than electric cars.
Browne also referred to plans by two major car producers in Japan to launch hydrogen-based cars around 2015.
It is widely believed that countries in CARICOM will be keenly interested in partnering with Japan to bring down their own costs of energy, and thereby reducing the cost-of-living of the people of the region, the statement said.