Business Monday: Closer cooperation


By Nadia Brancker


Barbados and the Caribbean have the potential to reap benefits from opportunities in the area of renewable energy.


This point has been highlighted by Liliana Ayalde, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Affairs, even as the region grapples to find billions of dollars to finance energy imports.


Barbados’ energy import bill is over $700 million.


“There is probably no region better situated to take advantage of renewable energy opportunities than the Caribbean,” Ms. Ayalde said in her feature address at the launch of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean last week.


The launch took place at the official residence of the US Ambassador to Barbados, His Excellency Larry Palmer.


Ayalde noted that the countries of the region have the exceptional potential for wind, solar and geothermal energies.


She highlighted, “The Caribbean region has a deep reliance on oil and other fossil fuels to supply most of its energy needs. As these resources reflect volatile global prices, it means that energy prices can be as high as three or five times those of the United Sates. World Bank research has shown that lack of access to affordable and reliable energy is one of the biggest impediments to growth in the region.


“We need to work together to find solutions to this growing energy need. Through the energy and climate partnership of the Americas, the OAS member countries work on energy and climate change.”


Ayalde also encouraged the Caribbean institutes of higher learning “to reach out to US institutes to create innovative linkages”, suggesting that this could be a theme of the new American Chamber of Barbados.


She also remarked, “The possibilities of growth in the region are endless through collaboration and integration and by working together as partners we are going to make our region intertwined economies, our countries and communities stronger.


“The Chamber has an important role to play in all of this. I know that the Barbados and Eastern US Chamber of Commerce will look for many innovative ways to move business forward and to bring trading relationships between our countries closer.”