Barbadian companies could soon be doing business with the company Grassalco, a government entity that represents the mining industry in Suriname.
This was alluded to by Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands, as she addressed media representatives and members of the business community at the Ministry’s headquarters, Culloden Road, St. Michael, who attended a meeting on the potential for doing business in Suriname with respect to natural resources.
The meeting was also attended by officials of the Ministry, including CARICOM Ambassador David Comissiong, and representatives from several business houses.
Minister Husbands, in welcoming the delegation from Grassalco, noted that of particular interest to Barbados was the granite and sand that was “so abundant in Suriname”.
She said: “It is a pleasure simply because it is a powerful marker of the fact that the CARICOM Single Market and Economy is working. Indeed, for many years we would have signed the Treaty of Chaguaramas. We would have been holding meetings via various CARICOM organs seeking to bring the region together. But the real impact on the ground happens when people get together and do initiatives that help to move forward their countries.”
Acknowledging that the meeting was part of the Brokopondo Agreement signed by both Governments in November 2018, she said since then they had been able to put a number of initiatives on the ground, which would help to deepen the engagement between Suriname and Barbados.
She also commended CARICOM Ambassador David Comissiong and Special Envoy Althea Wiggins. She noted that the former was working assiduously across CARICOM to help bring to reality the “active engagement of people and businesses together to help to drive business across the region”.
Of Ms. Wiggins, the Minister acknowledged that she had worked with the Suriname project, on behalf of Government, and was able to create an environment in which trade was beginning to take place in a deeper way between the countries.
Explaining why the promotion of the trade in building materials was of importance to Barbados at this time, Ms. Husbands said this was because part of the country’s growth strategy was to use construction as one of the ways to generate jobs and economic activity in Barbados.
Adding that the country had a shortage of domestic sand, she said with those supplies soon to be exhausted, it was imperative that the island find alternative supplies, and the partnership with Suriname could bring both sand and granite to the island.
Minister Husbands further alluded to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the region emphasizing it could complicate trade relations.
Stating that it was receiving the attention of Government, she disclosed that shortly it would be making its plans known, in terms of health and keeping the balance in the economy.
“The national response of each country will really determine how well that trade will take place,” the Minister said, as she added China had closed a number of its production facilities and had only just resumed some production of essential supplies.
Outlining what this could mean for trade in the region, she stressed: “It means that our supply chain network can be disrupted and therefore it is imperative for all companies to investigate what is the potential impact if certain industries are closed, or if countries take on a national response that prevents the continued production of inputs and exports that we are going to need to keep our businesses afloat. This is why Suriname is important.
“It means that if CSME is to mean anything in a crisis of this nature our companies now have to look towards CARICOM to source alternative supplies. This I believe could present a tremendous opportunity if we can grab it while it is available to upscale our production when production in other places might be declining as countries develop their national response to the coronavirus. So I am very pleased this is a propitious moment to have the Surinamese here to look at what it is we can do in relation to alternative sources of supply.”