Falling oil prices and the impact of the global economic crisis were high on the agenda recently, when former President of the Republic of Chile, Sebastian Pi??era, paid a courtesy call on Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, in the Committee Room of Parliament.
Senator McClean noted that Barbadians had seen the impact of falling oil prices at the pump and on electricity but despite this, the island???s interest in renewable energy would not wane.
The Minister also pointed out that Barbados seemed to be having ???quite a good winter season???, and there were new developments in terms of hotel properties to be constructed. Highlighting the Sandals Resort, she said it was a major Caribbean brand, and much was expected of the opening of their second hotel here.
Explaining that Sandals would have seen the strength of the Barbados Brand in the United Kingdom, she told Mr. Pi??era this was a new arena in which to promote the Sandals group, predominantly known for marketing in the United States.
???We???re using the opportunity to continue to do some major restructuring of the economy??? So we are working towards that and we???re seeing the benefits. We???ve given, notwithstanding the challenges, a lot of incentives to tourism, which is our main foreign exchange earner,??? said Senator McClean.
The former President heard too that Barbados was in the process of diversifying its international business sector. The Foreign Trade Minister said Barbados had relied heavily on the Canadian market and done well, but with China now approaching the region, new opportunities were being seen.
???They (China) have been very assertive in terms of building their connections in this part of the hemisphere??? and a lot is promised,??? she stated.??In expressing his pleasure to be on the island, Mr. Pi??era said of Chile: ???The economy is suffering from the international situation and particularly with respect to what is happening in terms of trade.??? While stating there was still growth in the economy, he remarked that his country was in the process of undertaking ???a lot of structural reform???.
He also informed Senator McClean that Chile was looking to advance the signing of a Double Taxation Agreement with Barbados.
Mr. Pi??era was accompanied by a delegation that included former Minister Secretary General of the Presidency of the Republic of Chile, Cecilia P??rez; Director of the Horizontal Cooperation Agency for International Cooperation, Eugenio Poessel; Chile???s Ambassador to Barbados, Fernando Schmidt; and Chile???s Honorary Consul in Barbados, David Harding.??Barbados and Chile established diplomatic relations on October 3, 1967.