“The virtues of exporting, though wrapped up in the macro level, must be nurtured at the micro level.”
This was underscored yesterday by Minister of International Business and Industry, Ronald Toppin, as he addressed the graduation ceremony for representatives of 16 companies, who participated in the 2018 edition of the Export-Readiness Programme (ERP) held by the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), from April to August.
Mr. Toppin told those gathered for the ceremony at Bagnall’s Point Gallery, Pelican Village, this was the overall thrust behind the ERP that aimed “to grow Barbadian exports by increasing the number of businesses which are exporting and, by extension, the nominal value of export receipts”.
Quoting figures from the Barbados Statistical Department, he said from 2013 to 2017, average domestic exports stood at Bds $526 million, while imports for the same period averaged $3.15 billion, indicative of a trade deficit of $2.60 billion.
And, he told the graduating cohort: “This is the benchmark against which the need to nurture an export culture, and to engage exporters to strive for excellence in quality, value and customer service, becomes the hallmark of a marketable export product or service. These are the attributes which the programme teaches and must be foremost in your ambition if sustainability is to be achieved.
“So, as you look to the future development of your businesses through export growth, let me state that Governments generally do not break into new markets, invent new products, or win export orders – businesses do. Hence, the need for a business-led strategy, developed in collaboration with specialists from across the corporate landscape, to address the practical barriers which exporters encounter.”
Minister Toppin noted that whether it was payment risk issues, a lack of working capital, cash-flow management or simply not having the right contacts in markets overseas, the BIDC’s ERP was and would, in the future, be “an implementation tool in finding, addressing and overcoming these barriers”.
He outlined that some barriers could be based on perceptions while some entrepreneurs might believe they were not suited to overseas sales, or lacked the confidence or knowledge in how to pursue them.
However, he stressed that Government, through the many agencies providing business support, including the BIDC, stood ready to provide an ongoing level of professional business development support to procure information needed to tackle market access issues and to seek and get export and trade finance.
The International Business Minister also emphasised that from a more global perspective, Government recognised that building a new economy necessitated laying new planks for economic growth or modernising old ones. He added it was essentially about making them fit for purpose in today’s competitive, open and global economy.
The companies also heard that an intrinsic component of the future economy would see Barbadians exporting professional services to the world, down a high-speed internet connection.
“To fast-track this new economy, the Government, the private sector and thriving entrepreneurs like yourselves, will need to embrace the digital economy. The Export Readiness Programme can serve as a catalyst in this effort and will attempt to more aggressively build out modules in upcoming programmes to facilitate Government’s vision,” Mr. Toppin said.