Minister of Economic Affairs and Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick (left), admires one of the wooden doors produced by Millworks Inc. At right is Chairman of Jada Group Inc., Bjorn Bjerkhamn.

There is a promise from Government to revamp the existing Special Technical Assistance Fund in keeping with its business development thrust to boost exports.??

Minister of Economic Affairs and Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick, who gave this pledge to the small business sector, said: "We have to rationalise how the Special Technical Assistance Fund is used.?? We are not going to increase Barbados’ capability to export unless we have specific export financing options," he told reporters during a press conference following a tour of Millworks Inc, at Spring Hall, St. Lucy, recently.

The Minister of Economic Affairs heard first-hand the challenges that some businesses faced from President of the Barbados Manufacturers Association, Ian Pickup. Some of these related to the high costs of inputs and the illegal importation of t-shirts from other Caribbean countries.

In turn, Dr. Estwick suggested a bulk purchasing arrangement as one way of tackling the situation. "Those costs of inputs could only be rationalised if Government got involved in a bulk buying relationship, either through a joint venture arrangement or through a merged relationship among the various groups to reduce costs. If this is not done, the sector will continually be confronted with these difficulties," he opined.

The Minister observed that while it was important to sign bi-lateral trading agreements, there was need for a department to oversee the implementation phase of the agreements. "We not only need a unit that negotiates, but one that also implements; and that implementation unit needs to have private sector interests on board, so that the process of determining how you can get your product from Barbados into a foreign market is worked out by the time you get to negotiate," Dr. Estwick stressed.

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