??Pictured from left: Acting Prime Minsiter, Ronald Jones; Minister of Industry, Small Business and Rural Development, Denis Kellman; and Executive Director of the BMA??Bobbi McKay,??at the closing ceremony. (G. Brewster/BGIS)

Manufacturing is not dead, but very much alive!

So says Minister of Industry, Small Business and Rural Development, Denis Kellman, as he addressed the closing ceremony of the 2011 Barbados Manufacturers’ Exhibition (BMEX) at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Stating that there were many detractors who postulate that manufacturing in Barbados was in the doldrums, Minister Kellman said: "I beg to differ… manufacturing is very much alive and having had the distinct honour of being assigned as the Minister with the responsibility for manufacturing, I will develop a deep appreciation of the growth possibilities that exist, not only for the manufacturing sector, but also agricultural agro-processing sectors, as well as for small business enterprises, once the necessary synergies are forged to make it all happen."????????

He remarked too, that BMEX had, over the years, become one of the primary fora through which the sector was able to add significance to the economy.?? He stressed: "…The relevance of the manufacturing sector to our economy and that we still have a thriving industrial sector is highlighted by the fact that we have seen some 165 exhibitors and/or manufacturers showcased here in one location over the past four days."

The Minister further noted that manufacturing had made a meaningful contribution to the economic and social development of the island, particularly in the post-independence era. "This is not only evident in terms of creation of employment for Barbadians across a wide spectrum, but also in relation to the sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product and foreign exchange," he outlined.

However, it was pointed out that manufacturing had encountered a number of challenges that included difficulties in exporting to international markets; achieving acceptable levels of competitiveness; issues associated with sourcing of financing and non-tariff barriers to trade.

Minister Kellman explained: "The rum industry, for example, which is one of the main exporters in the manufacturing sector, has been inundated with a number of challenges in exporting to markets outside of the Caribbean region. This industry, which accounts for over $50 million a year in exports, has had to grapple with increasing barriers to trade, which threaten the sustainability of the local rum industry."

The Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA) was lauded for its "relentless efforts at lobbying" for the manufacturing industry’s advancement and sustainability over the years.?? The Minister stressed that BMEX represented "a testament to the BMA’s commitment to the advancement of a sector, which is one of the vital organs for growth and development of our economy".

BMEX began as a small and modest domestic trade show in 1982 at Seawell, Christ Church, and has since evolved to become an international trade fair.?? This year’s Best Booth (Food) was won by Banks Holdings Limited, while Best Booth (Construction) went to Solar Dynamics. Others in winners’ row were:?? Best New Product (Construction) – Oran Limited; Best Booth (Fashion) – Angelique Jewelry; Best New Design (Fashion) – Azphos Creation; Best Booth (Spa) Earth Mother Botanical; Best New Product (Spa) – Scented Lites.


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