If Caribbean economies are to overcome the low economic growth experienced in recent years, the export earning sectors must grow in order to earn the necessary foreign exchange.

This assertion came from Minister in the Prime Minister???s Office, Senator Darcy Boyce today, as he addressed a regional workshop to conceptualise an export competitiveness index.

The two-day workshop, sponsored by the Caribbean Export Development Agency, has attracted participants from around the region.

Senator Boyce, who is also chairman of the CARICOM Commission on the Economy, told his audience that the export competitiveness index which they would construct was vital to ensuring growth in the region???s export sectors.

???Exports from our countries cannot grow or provide sufficiently strong drivers for growth in other sectors unless those export sectors compete well with the export sectors of the rest of the world.

???We therefore need to manage our export competitiveness, and to do so, we need to know what our competitive edge is, how great that edge is, whether we are gaining or losing ground in that edge and whether we are making the best use of that edge.???

What was necessary, he maintained, was an ???objective, auditable measure??? of the region???s competitiveness, and that was what the workshop was designed to begin to develop.

Senator Boyce also stressed the importance of linkages between export earning sectors and other sectors of the economy.?????Remember that the process of producing goods and services for export, as well as the process of exporting, require significant inputs from and interaction with those sectors that do not directly produce or make exports.

It is therefore important to understand those linkages and how they impact on the level of competitiveness of our exports,??? the Minister charged.??Any export competitiveness index, he advised, should therefore pay attention to the quality of performance of the linkages between the export earning sectors and the other sectors of the economy.

He also urged the participants to pay attention to constructing an index which would have a viable counterpart in those countries with which the region competed.

???Remember that we do not construct an export competitiveness index merely to know how well we are doing in absolute terms, but to know how well we are doing compared to other countries??? Our index must also guide us to those factors that we need to adjust when we seek constantly to increase our competitiveness,??? Senator Boyce said.


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