Director of Export Development and Promotion, Sonja Trotman (standing) and Mission Coordinator, Business Development Officer, Madeline Headley-Woodroffe, debriefing participants prior to the trade mission.

Barbados is seeking to strengthen its position within its major export market, CARICOM.

To this end, a 20-member contingent of Barbadian manufacturing and services companies will be heading to St. Lucia and Grenada to participate in a trade mission scheduled to take place from Monday, March 21, to Friday, March 25.

The mission is being spearheaded by the Barbados Investment & Development Corporation (BIDC). The delegation will comprise persons from the food and beverages, apparel and accessories, construction, wood and metal decorative products, automobile, renewable energy, printing and graphic design services sectors.

The BIDC will be unveiling its newly rebranded export promotion strategy under the theme ???Connecting with the World through Trade’, which will see the ???roll out’ of rebranded exhibits, along with some of the best of Barbados’ food and beverage products, during the planned networking sessions.??

This mission, which follows a successful multi-sectoral one to the French Caribbean last November, is being coordinated as part of the BIDC’s plans to broaden Barbados’ export base within the Caribbean and Latin America.

BIDC Director of Export Development and Promotion, Sonja Trotman, explained that "the mission is part of a major effort to consolidate and grow Barbadian exports within the region. CARICOM represents a market where quick gains can be realised from new and traditional export products, and is at the same time an ideal entry point for first-time exporters to become immersed in conducting international business".

During the visits, the delegation will engage in business to business meetings, consult with business support organisations and agencies and explore opportunities for the further development of trade relations, joint ventures and other investments.

It is hoped that the trade mission will succeed in sustaining existing relations and creating new ones between Barbados, Grenada and St. Lucia.

Representatives from the Barbados Manufacturers Association, LIAT’s Cargo and Quikpak Services, and ACP Caribbean Limited’s freighting services are also part of the delegation, and have joined the BIDC as strategic partners.

LIAT and ACP Caribbean are facilitating transport logistics to ensure the sample products reach the target markets, and will be showcasing the intra-island transport services for exports throughout the mission.

The delegation will be in St. Lucia, from March 20 to 23 and will move on to Grenada from March 23 to 25. Open house exhibitions and product sampling sessions are scheduled for Monday, March 21, at the Bay Gardens Hotel in St. Lucia and Thursday, March 24, at the Grenada Grand Beach Resort in Grenada, where persons interested in doing business with Barbados are invited to attend.

Preliminary statistics from the Barbados Statistical Service indicate that Barbados shipped approximately BDS $205.1 million in goods to CARICOM countries during 2010, an increase of 2.1 per cent over the previous year.

Trinidad and Tobago remained the main regional export partner, receiving 19.4 per cent of exported goods, while St. Lucia and Grenada accounted for 14.4 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.

The principal exports within the region were cement, margarine, insecticides, aluminium cans, sweet biscuits, paints, soya bean oil and aluminium windows and doors.

Author: Andre Skeete/Jane Broome

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