Minister of Economic Affairs, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick, examines some of the craft on display at??BMEX.

A Government Minister is urging the manufacturing sector to exploit the opportunities under the Caricom Single Market and Economy, and the Economic Partnership Agreement, to safeguard the future development of the industry.

Minister of Economic Affairs, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick, made this appeal last Friday, while addressing the official opening ceremony of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Exhibition (BMEX), at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

In highlighting the importance of penetrating regional and extra-regional markets, he stated that innovation, technology and education were the "central pillars in achieving this expansion".

To this end, Dr. Estwick alluded to a new funding arrangement for businesses to be facilitated through an amalgamation of the Innovation Fund, the Industrial Investment and Employment Fund and Fund Access to assist manufacturers in producing more value-added products.

The Economic Affairs Minister also pledged to implement a new comprehensive Industrial Policy that is driven by innovation and technology; create an Industrial Development Commission which would encompass representatives from the academic community, the public sector, the manufacturing sector and the trade union movement; and review the Special Technical Programme.

Dr. Estwick also announced plans to re-define the role of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, facilitate the establishment of a central procurement facility to provide cheaper inputs within the food and beverage sector.??He further mentioned efforts to pursue private/public sector partnerships to assist with the on-going renovations to old industrial estate buildings and to establish a special Research and Development Fund, to guide the future development of the manufacturing sector.

However, despite Government’s efforts to keep the sector afloat, he warned: "What is also required is a re-orientation in the thinking of manufacturers.??It cannot be business as usual and they must utilise trade intelligence to build effective and profitable international trading relations."

In addition, the Economic Affairs Minister advised the entrepreneurs to draw on the expertise of officials from the Barbados National Standards Institution, in an effort to bring the labelling, packaging and branding of their products on par with international product standards.

The annual trade exhibition, which attracted more than 150 exhibitors from Barbados and other Caribbean territories, ended on Monday.

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