Prime Minister David Thompson????

"The abrupt halt to the Free Trade Area of the Americas’ negotiations, represents in many ways a missed opportunity for the countries of the Caribbean, which had invested substantial financial and human resources in the process."

This view was posited by Prime Minister David Thompson, during a recent address at the Commonwealth Business Forum, entitled "Commonwealth and the Americas" in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.

"In some ways it represents dashed hopes for the region, as it would have obviated the evolution of several bilateral free trade arrangements with individual countries and sub-regions in the hemisphere," he opined.??

Mr. Thompson added that it could also have provided another vehicle through which Commonwealth countries would have been able to tap into hemispheric markets.

He stressed that domestically, several pieces of legislation had been passed, which were intended to make Barbados an attractive domicile for international enterprises seeking to do business in the Caribbean.

"We are committed to pursuing policies that allow us to remain a well regulated and well respected international business jurisdiction, as evidenced by studies undertaken by agencies such as Transparency International," the Prime Minister stated.

According to him, factors such as a well-educated and highly skilled workforce; transparent investment laws; no restrictions on foreign ownership of businesses and enterprises; and limited foreign exchange controls, made Barbados an attractive domicile for international businesses, including those in the Commonwealth.

Mr. Thompson reiterated that institutional and regulatory frameworks had been developed that allowed for the proper and judicious supervision and regulation of the international business and financial services sector.

"We have ensured that our double taxation treaties contain transparency and tax information exchange provisions. In other words, if your business is a legitimate one that provides decent work, then we might be the place for you," he pointed out.

The Prime Minister also expressed the view that Barbados’ and the region’s attractiveness as places to do business were accentuated by the trading arrangements that were concluded with a number of countries within this hemisphere and which were accessible to businesses incorporated and/or registered in the Caribbean.

"I speak for example of the regional free trade agreements which we have with Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic and the partial scope agreements we have signed with Colombia and Cuba. We also have a trading agreement with Venezuela," he explained.??

Mr. Thompson suggested that that the Commonwealth Caribbean was therefore "in an excellent position to use its various trading arrangements to facilitate and promote intra and extra regional trade and investment opportunities with the private sector in the Americas".

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