FINANCIAL DOWNTURN PROVIDES BOTH POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES ON IB SECTOR

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The global economic downturn has had some positive spinoffs for the International Business sector, despite a noticeable decline in the number of new entrants.

Word of this has come from Director of International Business, Francoise Hendy, who has described the impact as "quite ironic"."I would say the effect of the recession on the economy and the country in respect of International Business has been quite positive. Positive in the sense that the reason for the global meltdown has been a less than robust application of regulation and the importance of regulation when it comes to the financial services sector, in particular. As a result of that there has been this rush to see how we can improve and rebuild what has been really a collapse of the financial market," she explained.

Ms. Hendy, who was speaking during this morning’s launch of International Business Week, which is slated to be held October 4-10, contended: "It is ironic in the sense that the world is now looking to see how we can improve our regulatory framework for international business; how we can make business people more responsible and how we can make governments more responsive to the innovation in the market. And it is interesting because that is what we have always talked about. So although we are looking at some decline in the number of new entrants, we are also finding that our existing clients are feeling a lot more comfortable being in Barbados, because they recognise that the Government’s thrust is supportive, and is reinforced by the international agenda when it comes to rebuilding the global market as a result of the recession," she underlined.

Ms. Hendy stressed that the sector’s marketing pitch going forward would be about saying that Barbados is on board, with calls for more appropriate regulation, better information exchange and transparency.

"It is a lot more than just numbers. It is about how you build confidence in your existing clientele, and how what we do now is going to impact on how companies look to us as a jurisdiction.

Beyond the products, and the people, and the services, it is really what the jurisdiction is doing as part of the wider international community of states when it comes to the rebuilding of the financial markets and what is our responsibility going forward, " she pointed out.

Ms. Hendy maintained that while recession within the context of a business enterprise is often linked to a reduction in sales and perhaps profitability, in the case of International Business it must be considered in relation to the economy, the country as a whole and businesses within the jurisdiction.

This was also underscored by Acting Chief Executive Officer of Invest Barbados, Emeline Taitt, who said since the global crisis there had started been a noticeable decline in the number of companies approaching Barbados for entry. She observed that there was "a little contraction here and there among the companies on the ground in Barbados, but nothing worrisome. "

Ms. Taitt said a customer service programme was in place where ongoing dialogue was being held with existing clients with a view to nipping any problems in the bud.

"It (the recession) has happened, but we have to put in a lot more effort to get people here and increase our promotion so that when the economy picks up again we are in the forefront," she added.

President of the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA), John Howard, said the organisation, which is spearheading International Business Week, will be pursuing three major objectives this year – to improve business facilitation in Barbados; to raise the awareness of the strategic importance of the sector and to proactively source new business opportunities.????cgaskin@barbados.gov.bb

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