Minister of Economic Affairs and Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick
Government is moving swiftly to establish a separate fund with an import and export component to address financing hurdles for the small business sector.
Word of this has come from Minister of Economic Affairs and Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick, who said such a facility was critical as the Ministry moves to rationalise its developmental funding for the industry.
He made this assertion today, while addressing a Manufacturers’ Forum on the topic: The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) – The Way Forward, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
Dr. Estwick said: “I am going to take all of these funds that are scattered all over the place and we are going to develop a separate fund that has within it an export, import bank capacity. Such a feature is highly important to deal with some of the obstacles that you are experiencing.”
The Economic Affairs Minister also disclosed that the Innovation and Industrial Development Funds, as well as Fund Access, will soon be administered by officials within the Ministry of Economic Affairs. “We are going to refashion these funding arrangements into a financing institution to service all aspects of industrial development and this is something that we are working on,” Dr. Estwick stressed.
Cognisant of the opportunities that are available under the EPA, the Minister urged manufacturers to ensure that their goods were competitively priced, were in adequate supply and conformed to international standards.
Dr. Estwick also identified some of the locally manufactured goods that will be liberalised over the next ten, 8, 20 and 25 years. Included in the list are potato chips; gift wrap paper; clay tiles and car batteries, which will be unrestricted over 25 years and building cement, brochures, pamphlets, leaflets, post cards, t-shirts and barbed wire which will be included in the next two decades.
Goods such as plastic bags, printed paper labels, calculating machine rolls, dog and cat food, calendars and bathrobes will be liberalised in over 15 years while towers and lattice masts of iron or steel will not face restrictions over the next 10 years.
He also said that Government was committed to providing avenues for manufacturers to exploit markets of the European Union and alluded to an expansion of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation’s (BIDC), programmes to assist in this regard.
Dr. Estwick disclosed that the BIDC’s Export Expansion Project would involve an intensification of the development programmes to facilitate greater penetration into such markets as the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. It would also involve an expansion of the Special Technical Assistance Programme.
In addition to initiatives being undertaken by the BIDC, the Minister also promised to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade to ensure that the development cooperation component under the EPA, was provided to businesses on a timely basis.
During the event, there were also presentations from Deputy Senior Director of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM), Carl Greenidge; Senior Business Development Officer with the BIDC, Beverley Alleyne; Trade Consultant with the Barbados Private Sector Trade Team, Dr. Natasha Ward and President of the Barbados Manufacturers Association (BMA), Ian Pickup.