Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has underscored the value of the international business sector, saying it continues to contribute significantly to the generation of foreign exchange earnings and the growth of the Barbados economy.

Mr. Stuart made the comments yesterday while delivering the feature address at the opening of the two-day International Business Week Conference 2015, at Hilton Barbados.

He pointed out that according to the latest confirmed figures, the international business and financial services sector contributed approximately 10 per cent to the island???s Gross Domestic Product. He added that the sector had in operation about 4,000 active international business entities and employed a cadre of highly-skilled Barbadians.

???It is important that we accept that international financial centres like Barbados are here to stay, because these centres play a key role in facilitating and improving the efficiency of international trade and commerce, as those who choose Barbados to do business will readily testify.

???It is, therefore, essential that we remain focused on the sector???s and the nation???s relevance, despite the changes and challenges which we face,??? he stressed.

Mr. Stuart said Government considered the $1 million medical tourism industry a lucrative one, which possessed several advantages for the international business sector. He reported that a study on the island???s medical tourism industry identified the Barbados Fertility Centre as a successful facility. According to him, that agency has changed the dynamic for several couples.

???Another related area ripe for investment is that of biotechnology, a rapidly emerging global industry??? We have a unique international business company by the name of Lenstec Inc., a global manufacturer or intraocular lenses for cataract and refractive surgery??? Lenstec is now one of our leading exporters, with Japan and China as primary markets, another example of a company changing the outlook of persons globally,??? he pointed out.

Mr. Stuart identified the establishment of medical schools as another niche area ripe for expansion, and cited the American University of Barbados as a ???success story??? that was changing the thinking of future health care providers.

The Prime Minister stated that as Barbados prepared to celebrate 50 years of nationhood, all must be willing to take higher aim, pursue alternative strategies and embrace new paths that would enhance the quality of life and standard of living for the society.

He pointed out that the performance of the local economy was constantly under review, and said it was heartening to note that several experts had observed that it was showing positive signs of recovery and continuing to attract inward investment.

Mr. Stuart noted that a number of projects had already started and were reaping success, while others would come on stream soon. ???These projects are but a few of the many areas in which our nation???s prosperity lies. Investors continue to place confidence in Barbados, in our economy, and indeed in our people,??? he declared.

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