Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, speaking to reporters during a media conference at the Grantley Adams International Airport on Thursday afternoon. She was joined by Attorney General, Dale Marshall and Minister of Tourism, Kerrie Symmonds. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

Barbados will host the 15th United Nations Development Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) quadrennial conference in October 2020.

This disclosure came from Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, who underscored the importance of this trade assembly and its accompanying events, which are expected to attract 3,500 visitors to the island.

While addressing reporters on Thursday afternoon during a media conference at the Grantley Adams International Airport, Ms. Mottley said: “It is a massive undertaking, but it is one that we feel that we are more than capable of doing.  The real benefit is not just in the tourism encounter itself, but is in the fact that we will chair the next round for the next four years.

“We will be at the centre of trade and development discussions globally, which will help us begin to expand the possibilities because small states and countries like ours have been suffering over the course of the last decade/decade and a half, with respect to the constriction of policy space.”

The Prime Minister noted that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also made a request and the two countries agreed to work together. The UAE will host the World Investment Forum and the e-Commerce Forum and Barbados will stage the other events, which include The World Creativity Forum and the World Youth Forum.

“The World Investment Forum, which goes with the UNCTAD General Assembly is a huge event and the scale of investment that it is seeking to accommodate and deal with, will dwarf anything that Barbados can respond to, or deal with. Therefore, we came up with the novel approach that we would seek to co-chair the UNCTAD General Assembly with UAE in Barbados, and we will co-chair the World Investment Forum…with the UAE in the United Arab Emirates in November 2020.

“What it does is that it puts us on a trajectory of working closely with a middle eastern state.  The two of us have completely different experiences….  I am more and more confident that these are the partnerships and the sharing of perspectives that will make the definable difference as we continue to engage the world….  Barbados cannot get out of this situation by looking inward; we have to be able to attract foreign investment, cooperation and collaboration,” she surmised.

Ms. Mottley said UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Board endorsed the two countries’ offer and the decision would be submitted to the UN General Assembly, in September, for approval. The first UNCTAD quadrennial assembly was held in 1964, and this will be the first time that a small state will host it.

The Prime Minister reiterated that small islands were on the frontline of the climate change battle, and added that the notion of climate refugees was now part of the regional conversation.

She noted that small vulnerable states did not have the capacity to distort global trade in goods and services, but yet, rules were being put in place that were not advantageous to them.

 Ms. Mottley opined that several countries were protecting their agricultural sectors, but small states did not have the benefit of doing such.  

“The conversation as to what small countries can do has to change.  UNCTAD may appear to be unsexy to some people, but these are the things that are going to make the defining difference as to what we will do,” she insisted.

She thanked all involved in helping to bring the conference to Barbados, including the Ambassador at Geneva, Chad Blackman; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, and the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport.

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