|From left: Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, Robert Morris; Ambassador of Barbados to China, Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford; China’s Ambassador to Barbados. Wei Qiang; and Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Steve Blackett, in discussion at the seminar. (A. Miller/BGIS)|
Former Prime Minister and Ambassador of Barbados to China, Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford, has declared that the days of preferential markets are over, and Barbados must urgently review and revamp its stance and actions as an exporting country.
Delivering the keynote address yesterday, at a seminar entitled Engaging China: Options, Opportunities and Strategies at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, the Barbadian envoy encouraged participants to look outside traditional markets and to focus on the Chinese and East Asian markets.
"From where I am located, I advocate a special focus on the markets of China and East Asia which are the most promising and resilient in world trade today and into the foreseeable future.
America will recover, and a different Europe will emerge. ??But the days of preferential markets are over. ??We can no longer hope to hang on to the coattails of those metropolitan centres," Sir Lloyd said.
He called for less talk and "a redoubling of our efforts" towards seeking out investments and engaging the potential of other economic sectors besides the service industry.
"No longer is it enough to proclaim that we are a service industry economy, as though services are all that we are about, and that services are the be-all and end-all of our economic thrust…"
"What I am really calling for is a redoubling of our efforts to raise significantly the output for the potential of other economic sectors, including agriculture and fisheries production, processing and manufacturing," he added.
Sir Lloyd acknowledged that while those sectors currently faced challenges, he remarked that for Barbados to move forward "herculean efforts" were needed, in addition to the exploration of new ideas.?? He readily identified by-product generation as an area that was fertile for exploitation.
"We must unbind ourselves from old ideas, and hitch ourselves to the wagon of new ideas. ??
We must seek to extract a greater contribution to output from sugar and its by-products from cotton, and from food crops, livestock and dairy products, and fisheries. The production of cooking oil from a source such as sunflowers comes readily to mind," he underlined.
The Ambassador also called for a deeper engagement in industry and manufacturing and pointed out that the sub-sectors which deserved a "root and branch re-examination" were: textiles wearing apparel and the leather industry, electronic equipment, food and beverages, fabricated metal products, clerical and data processing industries, non-metallic mineral products, paper products and printing, handicrafts, and precision instruments and electrical equipment.
Sir Lloyd, however, noted that Barbados should continue to place importance on tourism, business and the financial services sectors and suggested that the country needed to invest more in its tourism plant, solar energy, water conservation and recycling activities. He said that China was a possible source for such investments.??
Stating that the "new approach calls, not for excessive talk or compendious studies, but a pragmatic search for niches", he proposed the establishment of a private-public sector agency that would concentrate on the sale of Barbadian exports, specifically goods, as well as to build expertise in marketing and to Barbadian products overseas.?? He added that such an agency should collaborate with Barbados’ diplomatic missions abroad.