Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland. (FP)

The national consultation on trade facilitation is expected to be the catalyst for bringing about an expansion of domestic exports, new investment flows and stronger economic growth in Barbados.

This was underscored by Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, who spoke to the media following the start of the workshop on Wednesday, at the Warrens Office Complex, Warrens, St. Michael.

Emphasizing that these were among the main goals which the island aimed to achieve once a fully functional Trade Facilitation programme was in place, he noted that apart from increased exports and improved economic growth, such an initiative would make the country more competitive and efficient, while improving the ease of doing business here.

The workshop also had as its key objectives to aid Barbados in formalizing its National Trade Facilitation Implementation Road Map, and developing a Technical Assistance Matrix for Trade Facilitation, as well as reconstituting the National Task Force on Trade Facilitation.

Minister Sutherland, who noted that previously there would have been working groups addressing trade facilitation, said: “While there were efforts by various sectors of government and the private sector, we did not achieve enough to push Barbados’ level of competitiveness, and indeed to reduce the cost of trade between borders.”

Acknowledging that the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) was the first multilateral agreement successfully negotiated at the World Trade Organization (WTO), he noted that statistics from the WTO indicated that the full implementation of the TFA could boost export growth in developing countries annually by approximately 3.5 per cent. 

“So, indeed, this workshop on Trade Facilitation is to ensure that the TFA, under the WTO, will allow Barbados to achieve a level of competitiveness that we have not seen in years, and indeed to boost economic growth.  Similarly, the diversity of export goods, as cited by WTO, can increase and also reduce the cost of trade by about 23 per cent,” he said, adding the average was between 15.8 per cent and 23.1 per cent.”

He stressed that these statistics provided evidence that developing countries like Barbados would stand to gain the most from implementing the TFA.

The two-day workshop, which was organized by the Ministry’s National Consultation Committee on Trade Facilitation, was attended by 30 participants drawn from the public and private sectors. 

It was facilitated by Senior Customs Adviser on Trade Facilitation with the World Bank Group, Jim Williams.

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