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Minister of Commerce wants discussions on the intra-regional stock exchange





Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon speaks during a press conference at the ministry, Nicholas Towers, Port of Spain, Tuesday.  Gopee-Scoon told a virtual forum on Wednesday that an intra-regional exchange could help Caribbean businesses.  PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE
Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon speaks during a press conference at the ministry, Nicholas Towers, Port of Spain, Tuesday. Gopee-Scoon told a virtual forum on Wednesday that an intra-regional exchange could help Caribbean businesses. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE

Any thinking about an intra-regional exchange must take into account how such an exchange would help local markets, Commerce Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a virtual panel discussion titled A Caribbean Business Forum: Establishing New Business Relationships, Gopee-Scoon said she would speak further on the issue at Caricom’s Trade and Economic Development Council (COTED), where conversations of this nature take place. She added that the government is encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to join the TT Exchange junior market to gain access to equity financing. Citing Jamaica as an example of the benefits for SMEs, she noted: The Jamaica junior scholarship is doing well and its importance lies in access to finance which is the pet peeve for SME growth.

Dr Didacus Jules, Director General of the OECS Commission, said that if their stock exchange is not as dynamic as it would like, they have an agreement with Jamaica to help its development. There is a need to consolidate efforts, Jules said.

Noting that covid19 has dealt a heavy blow to all businesses in all industries, Gopee-Scoon said companies need to focus on keeping afloat before thinking about pivoting to take advantage of the opportunities arising from the pandemic.

Pivoting would mean staying the course and surviving the pandemic. Despite our constraints, we were able to introduce and support companies. Thanks to Nedco, we were able to provide grants and we provided loan guarantees through commercial banking systems.

She said up to $ 300 million has been provided through loan schemes and an additional $ 200 million not only for individuals but also for small businesses that do business with credit unions. An additional $ 400 million was provided for the supply of essential products and to support manufacturers.

She said the way forward would be to ensure that all products placed on the market were internationally acceptable.

These are new ideas for products and services indigenous to the region.

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