This island???s efforts at repositioning its economy were highlighted last month, when Barbados??? Third World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Policy Review was held on January 27 and 29, in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Trade Policy Review is the process, mandated by the WTO, which examines the trade and related policies of all WTO Members.
The Review is facilitated by a Chair and Discussant, whose roles are to highlight key points from the review and stimulate discussion.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, in addressing the forum, explained to the membership that the economic recession, which came about as a result of circumstances beyond Barbados??? control, had a significant impact on the economy.
She highlighted some of the programmes and projects being instituted to reposition the economy, including a comprehensive set of policies to encourage greater use of renewable energy, and the development of energy-efficient projects and programmes to reduce energy costs.
Senator McClean also pointed out that Barbados??? trade policies had sought to bring balance to the economy and encourage the growth of manufacturing and the international business and financial services sectors.
The Discussant for the Review, Ambassador Tan Yee Woan of Singapore, lauded Barbados??? ability to sustain a high quality of well-being despite the grave challenges posed, and noted that Barbados??? Government nurtured a ???business-friendly operational environment???.
Twenty-two of the countries present made interventions and contributors to the discussion included Barbados??? main trading partners namely the United States, the European Union, Canada, and China; CARICOM partners, Jamaica and the OECS; as well as India, Nigeria and Costa Rica.
The importance of flexibilities for small, vulnerable economies like Barbados was noted by members, and the country was also lauded for its resilience in the face of the devastating effects of the global recession. Praise was also given to Barbados for its Medium Term Growth and Development Strategy, 2013???2020.
In the closing session on January 29, Minister McClean expanded on a number of initiatives being pursued by Barbados, including the National Agricultural Health and Food Control Programme; the modernisation of the Customs Department; and public procurement practices and procedures. Barbados??? active involvement in CARICOM was also highlighted.
In the margins of Barbados??? Trade Policy Review, Minister McClean held bilateral discussions with the Heads of the WTO; the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Trade policy reviews are undertaken periodically for all WTO Members. Barbados??? last Trade Policy Review was held in September 2008.