Innovation & competitiveness of Caribbean firms

It is clear that companies in the Caribbean now have to be innovative and competitive because preferential arangements with countries outside the region have disappeared. Available data highlights the urgent need for collaboration among business organisations and for additional resources to help firms innovate in ways that directly inprove sales performance and commercial success.

The new globalised environment is now heavily characterised by an increase in economic integration worldwide, a rise in international trade and greater international competition. A number of Caribbean voices, including Ambassador Dr. Richard Bernal, have contended that free trade would have a markedly disproportionate competitive impact on firms in small open economies.

Caribbean researchers such as Professors Densil Williams and Alvin Wint have highlighted that there are unique commercial realities, national cultures, diseconomies of scale, institutional voids, credit and macroeconomic vulnerabilities that affect overall national and firm competitiveness in small states. This has brought into sharp focus the importance of competitive firms to the economic development of the countries in the Caribbean. Internationally respected competitiveness expert Michael Porter has long argued that a nation’s standard of living is tied to the level of productivity of its firms and their capacity to gain competitive advantage through innovation.

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