|Senator Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. (FP)
The trade mission to Costa Rica will give business people there and in Barbados an "excellent opportunity" to embark on new avenues of trade which can redound to the mutual economic benefit of both countries.
In a message to introduce the trade mission to the Republic of Costa Rica, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, outlined the benefits as including the emergence of new small and medium-sized enterprises, foreign direct investment and opportunities for technology transfers.
Senator McClean said: "There is already in place a Free Trade Agreement between CARICOM and the Republic of Costa Rica. In addition, there is an Economic, Technical and Commercial Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica and the Government of Barbados. I believe that these agreements provide a solid foundation on which vibrant and sustainable trade and business linkages can be forged to the mutual benefit of both countries.
"There is still tremendous scope for business persons to be more assertive in pursuing opportunities as the trade statistics between Barbados and Costa Rica readily suggest [that] Barbados’ exports rose from a meagre US$63,000 in 2005 to US$77,000 in 2010, while Costa Rica’s exports rose from a modest US$6.5 million to a modest US$12 million during the same period."
The Minister said she was optimistic, not only about the prospects for increased and sustained bilateral trade between the two countries, but also about pursuing the opportunity to strengthen the ties of friendship and goodwill, which she described as the basis for and consequence of trade.
She explained: "Small open economies such as Barbados and Costa Rica, with modest domestic markets and a need for the earning of foreign exchange are highly dependent on external trade, both for sourcing of raw materials and for the sale of their completed goods and services. In addition, given the vagaries of international trade in an era of economic volatility, it is imperative that such trade be as diversified as possible to prevent over reliance on a single market or single product."
Senator McClean expressed the view that history had made the Caribbean and Latin American countries look northward in search of markets and, as a result, south-south trade had not been accorded priority status. "Added to this, are the well-known constraints to south-south trade, such as the absence of adequate air and sea links, and the language barriers. Today, we continue the long process of redirecting our history," she stated.
The Minister gave the assurance that government was ready to give whatever counsel, advice or encouragement deemed necessary.