The Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, Sustainable Development and Information Technology is hopeful that St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ inaugural Investment Forum will lead to “significant benefits” for the country’s economy and citizens.
Speaking at a recent media launch to announce the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Investment Forum (SVGIF) 2020, Hon. Camillo Gonsalves expressed his approval of the event bringing potential investors to our shores instead of the traditional approach of a delegation attending overseas investment related events.
“The typical mould of investment agencies in the Caribbean has been to wait for there to be a trade show in some exotic locale, travel to that locale and set up a booth or tent… and say ‘St. Vincent and the Grenadines, come check us out!’ That’s not an effective way to generate investment in countries like ours,” explained Gonsalves.
“It’s good business to bring people to St. Vincent and the Grenadines to feed them our agricultural produce… to enjoy the entertainment and talent that we have… for them to see and understand the very special gifts that our country has; and bring the market here to consume here.”
He added: “We think we are in a place now where an astute and entrepreneurial investor will see the opportunities and capitalize on them.”
Invest SVG Executive Director Annette Mark shared the Minister’s sentiments regarding the Forum – which takes place on May 2, 2020 at Amitabah Luxury Villa in Bequia.
“Invest SVG has been working to execute an investment promotions strategy that would positively position our country as a preferred and premier destination for investments. In executing this strategy, we have hosted inward missions, outward missions; we have been to conferences and other forums, and we have met investors one-on-one in boardrooms. The difficulty is actually speaking about St. Vincent [and the Grenadines] abstractly to investors [who] don’t know about the Caribbean,” emphasised Mark.
“We came up with this idea that we are going to change this – we’re going to bring the investors here to St. Vincent. In bringing them to St. Vincent, we want them to see the kind of infrastructural development we have here so that they can realise that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a premier destination for investments. We also want them to interact with our people, first-hand experience our culture and see the diversity of our nation.”
The SVGIF 2020 aims to attract high net worth individuals and groups who are serious about investment and match them with available opportunities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
At the Forum, investors will be able to speak with senior government officials, gain a better understanding of how to conduct business in SVG, conduct site visits and receive more in depth information about featured properties, network and get a general feel for the country on a whole.
Mark also said that she expects St. Vincent and the Grenadines to experience “heightened visibility” after hosting the SVGIF 2020, and benefit from generated investor leads.
The Forum is receiving technical and financial assistance from regional and local agencies such as Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA), IDB Compete Caribbean, CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) and National Properties Ltd (St. Vincent and the Grenadines).
CEDA and Compete Caribbean were represented at the media launch by Special Advisor (Legal Affairs) Gayle Gollop and Operations and Financial Coordinator Russell Franklyn, respectively.
In her remarks, Ms. Gollop described the SVGIF 2020 as an “important initiative”, highlighting CEDA’s pleasure to be partnering with Invest SVG on yet another project – as one of the agency’s mandates is to increase the attractiveness of the region as a destination for investment.
She also recognised that the Vincentian economy is focused on growth, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projecting a 2.3 per cent growth in the economy for 2020 – fuelled by increased visitor arrivals.
“It is, however, recommend that sustainable growth be achieved by enhancing the competitiveness of the local private sector, increase exports and investments and reaching new markets – which will lead to increased GDP, foreign exchange earnings and employment,” noted Gollop.
“We view the Investment Forum as an important step in establishing linkages, promoting investment into the country and achieving the growth objective.”
In his remarks, Mr. Franklyn highlighted a history of cooperation and support between IDB Compete Caribbean and Invest SVG in its efforts to strengthen capacity to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
“We recognize, however, that more needs to be done to boost foreign direct investment in the country,” said Franklyn.
“As part of our mandate to create and support an enabling environment in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we also look forward to assisting the Government… through Invest SVG to revising the investment policy to position the country as a more agile attractor of Foreign Direct Investment, while maintaining its identity.”
He further mentioned the work that Compete Caribbean has been doing to help strengthen the institutional capacity of the Commerce and Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) by digitizing its business processes.
Invest SVG Chairman of the Board Anthony Regisford also gave brief remarks at the media launch.