The Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie, Prime Minister of The Bahamas, provided the keynote address this morning at the Official Opening of the Trade Show for the [Jamaica Stock Exchange](http://www.jamstockex.com/) (JSE) Regional Investments & Capital Markets Conference.
His topic, “Positioning the Caribbean in the International Arena” focussed on the importance to such positioning in terms of, for example, governance, the business environment, and innovation. He said, *”the ultimate goal of such positioning must, of course, be the betterment of our peoples, in terms of their economic and social well-being, all across the region. In today’s markets, defining and implementing a successful brand-positioning strategy in a rapidly changing business environment can be challenging to say the least.”*
In his remarks, Prime Minister Christie noted:
**Governance**: Fair and effective governance is critical to ensuring that development benefits both people and the planet itself. Good governance will be an important determinant of the pace and character of economic development in the next decade. The preservation of the rule of law, protection of property rights, safeguarding of human and fundamental rights, an efficient and independent justice, the eradication of waste, prudence in public expenditure and a zero tolerance of bribery and corruption are among the facets of good governance that must prevail in the region if our economies are to grow and we are to correctly position the Caribbean in the international arena.
**The Business Environment:** Investment and economic growth will depend among other things on the quality of the business environments that we seek to establish, the overall set of policies that affect the starting and running of businesses, and how they are implemented and managed.
**Innovation**: The need for innovation is a cornerstone of the future success of our region. The ongoing survival of the Caribbean’s international financial services sectors may necessitate the creation of new products, targeting new markets and moving towards further specialization.
He said, however, *”As we contemplate positioning the Caribbean in the international arena, we recognize that good governance, a friendly business environment and innovation are only a part of the equation.””
**High-value, Financially Literate Workforce:** Fundamental to the positioning of the Caribbean must be an emphasis on a workforce that is, both in fact and perception, an excellent value – appropriately educated, skilled for their functions, healthy and functioning in a safe environment. I wish to note here that part-and-parcel of having a top-notch workforce is having a financially literate populace as well.
In terms of capital markets development, he noted that financial literacy has important implications for the capacity of Governments in the region to develop strong local savings which efficient capital markets can then convert into business investments, reduce spending on various social safety nets, and indirectly attract foreign investment as well.
Prime Minister also included in his presentation other important factors for effective positioning in the international arena, inclusive of Health, Infrastructure, Energy, Climate, Technology and Public Safety.
In speaking to the international reputation of the region in sports, the Prime Minister noted that the healthy and competitive environment of CARIFTA, for example, is where many of the greatest Caribbean finest athletes would have had their first taste of intense international competition. *”Key to the region achieving similar success in our common aspirations for economic growth and development will be our national and regional ability to think strategically and to collaborate. In the same way that The Games underscore that competition among ourselves can augur to the betterment of us all, a collaborative, strategic approach we can position this region as one of excellence in governance, one where there is a highly skilled and well-educated workforce, and one possessing the infrastructure and technology to facilitate economic development in the 21st Century and beyond.”*
The Regional Investments and Capital Markets Conference is held in January every year, when the Jamaica Stock Exchange Group brings together powerbrokers, policymakers, philanthropists and professionals from different countries who willingly disclose leading industry ideas. Now in its 11th year, the event is an anticipated calendar event in the business communities locally and regionally because of the new possibilities and new paradigms it opens up.