Acting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart (left) in conversation with Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Keith Franklin (far right, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, NULL, NULL, 0); Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Caribbean Conference Manager, Kerry Harris and Conference Chairman, Adrain Meyer, yesterday at the Hilton Barbados. (A. Miller/BGIS)

Government is working assiduously to expand the financial services sector in Barbados.

This was reiterated yesterday by Acting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart. He was delivering the feature address at the opening of the three-day Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Caribbean Conference, held at Hilton Barbados.

Mr. Stuart said it was Prime Minister David Thompson’s vision to attract and expand foreign direct investment to "augment Barbados’ competitive advantage and position on the world stage."

"Our future as a successful jurisdiction demands consistency, creativity, innovation, responsiveness, flexibility and excellence in service delivery. Government, through its economic development agency, Invest Barbados and along with relevant stakeholders, is working with a sense of urgency to accelerate the throughput and implementation of new products, to improve regulatory and compliance standards, as well as enhance the Barbados business environment," Mr. Stuart indicated.

"Certainly, in an environment where globalisation continues its forward march, and competition for finite and decelerating investment flows intensifies, countries like ours will need to accentuate our more unique and distinctive features," the Acting Prime Minister pointed out.

To this end, he indicated that efforts were ongoing to build a national brand of excellence that would pervade every sector of the economy.

Mr. Stuart maintained that brand differentiation would, increasingly, "play a pivotal role in our future development thrusts, especially given the vulnerability of economies like ours to the impact of recent global events like the financial meltdown."

He added "… the fundamental feature of our brand for international business is our expanding double taxation treaty network, which, at present includes 29 countries, with double taxation treaties, with another 14 initialed or under negotiation."

"Further, our exceptional record of social, political and economic stability, prudent fiscal management and world class infrastructure, are well known, and have served us well," Mr. Stuart remarked.

The Acting Prime Minister stated that the Barbados Model had "evolved from the stage where it was classified as an agrarian society, to one where it has become a sophisticated, dynamic, business-oriented community, typified by a good balance of international business and financial services, tourism, agriculture and manufacturing sector activity."

He told the international gathering of financial service providers that Barbados would continue to strengthen its brand, by carving niches in carefully selected areas, including private trust companies, hedge fund management and other areas of private wealth.

The STEP Caribbean Conference attracted over 250 delegates from Australia, Asia, Singapore, Europe, Switzerland, Canada, the United States, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

It had as its theme: "Preparing for Change: Welcome to the new Paradigm – a new world order and a new way of doing business".

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