Regional financial integration a US$57-billion opportunity

Acting chief executive officer (CEO) of Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange Limited Eva Mitchell says with an estimated US$57 billion in investable funds across the Caribbean, integration can strengthen the region’s financial services sector and enhance global competitiveness.

Mitchell indicated that given the unique and inherent vulnerabilities that impact the region, improving financial integration, for instance, through more intraregional trade and policy coordination, can help economies build greater resilience and scale, as well as technological innovations.

“The two major economic benefits I see [are] economic growth and risk-sharing. Firstly, mobilising the savings of our regional population to finance the growth of our companies, both large and small, will fuel the growth of our countries and promote the development of the Caribbean financial system,” she said at the virtual launch of the JSE e-Campus Caribbean Securities Trader Professional Certificate programme on Monday.

“Secondly, by allowing cross-border financing and investment, it facilitates portfolio diversification, thereby the sharing of risks across the countries. Such risk-sharing allows income to be assured against country-specific shocks and therefore consumption and income to be smooth and sustainable over time,” she argued.

However, while there is a greater level of cross-border investments, Mitchell noted that if these initiatives are seamless throughout the region it can allow for greater efficiencies and a more diverse range of products.

“… This can only be done if we address the structural deficiencies of our regional economy, which is the lack of linkages across the various countries. And to do this we must come together and position our workforce, talent pool, and financial services, so that we meet investor demand by issuing financial products in one country that would allow regional and international investors from other territories to easily benefit,” she contended.

“We must also enhance our digital capabilities, and COVID-19 has mobilised the entire world into a digitalised society and global economy. Therefore, it is imperative for the financial sectors across the region to seamlessly transition to become more technologically-driven.”