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Commerce Minister, Donville Inniss in discussion with Barbados Private Sector Association CEO, Anne Reid; Labour Minister, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo and CTUSAB President , Cedric Murrell. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

Local businesses have been told to "up the ante" if they are serious about infiltrating regional and extra-regional markets and in turn generating economic growth for this country.

Minister of Commerce, Donville Inniss, threw out this challenge as he addressed stakeholders this morning at the opening ceremony of a workshop sponsored by the Barbados Confederation and the International Labour Organization at the Island Inn Hotel, Aquatic Gap, St. Michael.

He was speaking on The Role of Labour Standards in Accessing International Markets and Supporting the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.

He told attendees that "… the penetration of regional and extra-regional markets was fundamental to the future development of our [Barbados’] economy but [this] could not be achieved without a new approach by businesses.

"It is businesses which trade, not Government. ??It, therefore, makes little sense for Government to become signatories to trade agreements if the business community does not seek to exploit the benefits and opportunities for new and expanded market access," he asserted.

The Commerce Minister reiterated that the task ahead for workers, employers and policy makers was to work harmoniously to create an environment that was conducive to economic growth and decent work for all.?? And, this demanded fresh and innovative approaches.

"As we strive to achieve economic stability, [and] growth and development in these trying times, we can no longer rely mainly on the domestic market.?? We must, therefore, seek to expand our market access. Focus must now be placed on utilising the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, which provides access to 14 million people, as an important platform through which local businesses can seek opportunities beyond our domestic space.

"Additionally, we must also redouble our efforts to maximise the potential benefits of the Economic Partnership Agreement which provides similar opportunities for increased market access," he surmised.

Adding that International labour standards and economic growth and development were inextricably linked, Mr. Inniss stated that international labour standards which included freedom of association, social protection, occupational health and safety and vocational training were essentially about the development of people.

"One of the core objectives of international labour standards is to ensure that economic development leads to the creation of jobs and working conditions which improve the lives of people …businesses must intensify efforts to develop and utilise e-commerce to reduce operating costs and improve efficiency leading to more competitive pricing and expand global market reach," he said.??

theresa.blackman@barbados.gov.bb

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