Minister of Sports, Stephen Lashley

Barbados’ Minister of Sports, Stephen Lashley, believes that trade and investment between Europe and the Caribbean in the area of sport must be strengthened by a clear strategy.

While addressing the Second CARIFORUM-EU Business Forum in London yesterday, Mr. Lashley said the strategy would need to start with the creation of opportunities for networking and information-sharing among stakeholders in sports, including potential investors.

"There must now be a collaborative Caribbean strategy which recognises the need to create audiovisual and other content for export, taking full advantage of the Economic Partnership Agreement with Europe. Sporting and cultural events need to be appropriately packaged and used as major attractions for investment," he suggested.

The Minister also expressed the view that after the Olympic Games, attention must be paid to the branding of athletes as a means of also creating investment in them and sports. "CARIFTA and other athletic meets must be marketed and both regional and international television and cable networks [should be] invited as partners to showcase these events to the world," he stated.

He told the gathering that the harnessing of business opportunities between now and the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 would be vital to this investment.

Mr. Lashley noted that the critical things which mattered most in creating a sports industry and deepening the sports culture in the Caribbean should be targeted. "For example, I believe that the time is ripe to focus our youth on careers in sports… We know that sport is one of the areas which could contribute greatly to the development of our young people, and so it is key that we seek to provide the best possible opportunities for training as well," he pointed out.

The two-day conference which ended today, was sponsored by the Caribbean Export Development Agency, in collaboration with the African Caribbean and Pacific States Secretariat. It highlighted the opportunities available to sporting entities, paying particular attention to the business of sports and the potential for increased trade and investment between the Caribbean and Europe.??


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