Feature: Political/Commercial Mission – A Satisfying Experience

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Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean is satisfied that the September 14-21 Political/Commercial Mission to Brazil has achieved its myriad objectives.

In an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS), at the end of the Mission, Senator McClean noted that dialogue with ministerial counterparts in Brazil had been realised, while useful meetings had been convened between Barbadians and business persons in Sao Paulo.

While pointing out that meetings which she engaged in with agencies, allowed for ???the sharing of our own experiences??? and ???opportunities to flesh out some possibilities for collaboration???, the Foreign Affairs Minister singled out SEBRAE, the Brazilian Support Service for Micro and Small Business for providing ???an understanding of the extent to which the Brazilian Government has been providing significant support to small and micro enterprise???.

Having taken a tour of SEBRAE???s headquarters in Brasilia, on Monday, September 16, with Analyst Alexandre Guerra De Araujo, she acknowledged the potential for exploring a number of technical cooperation agreements through this organisation.

???It may be possible that some persons from some of the agencies, providing services to micro, small and medium businesses, may come here or [you] can come to Barbados and meet and share with our officials some of what you are doing as well as your successes???I think our objectives are very similar. Our means of doing it may be similar and they may be things we could share,??? she opined.

In summing up the achievements on the business side, Senator McClean said: ???I think the key objective was to provide an opportunity basically for these entities and these officials from the private sector to have a mechanism by which they could come into the Brazilian market, [which is] a very complex market???understand a lot about the processes by which they could engage other business people and understand something about the regulations and the complexities of a country of this mass.???

As she stressed that Barbadian businesses had the good fortune of utilising resources available through the country???s Embassy, in Brasilia, Ms. McClean said: ???Our Ambassador, First Secretary and other staff, even though a small complement, are in a very good position to facilitate business. And, I would want to encourage persons to make contact with Ambassador Yvette Goddard and her staff to ensure that they can be facilitated.???

The invaluable role of the Honorary Consul in Sao Paulo, Jorge Nemr was also recognised, with Senator McClean pointing out that ???he had been working very hard for Barbados even before we had an Embassy and he has pledged to continue to do so???.

The Foreign Trade Minister also noted that participants in the Mission had, themselves, made contacts, whether in agriculture, in terms of sourcing materials for manufacturing or in the cultural services industries, and could also make worthwhile use of these relationships.

Senator McClean was not the only official who deemed the week-long Mission a success. Barbados??? Ambassador to Brazil, Yvette Goddard, having accompanied the Minister to a number of engagements in Brasilia and Sao Paulo, said: ???For us at the Embassy it has been a pleasure to finally see this Mission take shape and to have the involvement of all the participants from Barbados.

???From the side of the Brazilian authorities, I can say, ???Yes,??? that we are very happy with the collaboration that we received in being able to organise the visits in different areas. ???Yes???, we are very satisfied.???

Acknowledging that there was a role for the Embassy in continuing to develop the types of instruments to further assist Barbados??? efforts, Ms. Goddard said: ???There have been a number of discussions by the artistes, cultural people and business persons and in the areas where there are possibilities for agreements of some sort, things that require involvement at a governmental level, certainly, the Embassy will be there to facilitate and we do hope that that interface will be kept [up] because it is very important.???

Ambassador Goddard alluded to agreements signed over the years and stressed that going forward what was required now from ???our side??? was for Barbados ???to put forward some specific areas for very specific cooperation???.

???We already have agriculture and health but we have had in education and culture, for which we can also seek to do something more specific and more prioritised???I think that is where we would need to go with the agreements which we have signed,??? she stressed.

The objectives of the September 14 to 21 Mission were to: showcase Barbados??? product and services offering; enhance the foreign exchange earning capacity of local businesses, provide local manufacturers with the opportunity to establish business relations; identify possible sources of raw materials for local producers; promote this country as a tourist and business investment destination; facilitate increased market penetration through direct export, joint venture and or franchising, and further strengthen the bilateral relationship with Brazil.

Minister McClean led the delegation that included Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Charles Burnett; Director of Foreign Trade, Kay Sealy; officials from the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), Banks Holdings Limited, Solaris, Global Energy, WIBISCO, and a team from the Government Information Service.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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