Barbados over the years has heavily invested in its human resources, and it is being suggested that the trading of services can complement the trade of goods.
Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands, shared this perspective this morning during the virtual Global Services Forum Pre-event High Level segment under the theme “‘Services-led transformation for post-pandemic recovery”.
Minister Husbands stated: “As a small open economy with limited natural resources, we have invested heavily in our human resources. As such, the services sector is of paramount importance to the attainment of sustainable development goals. We have long realised that it cannot be an alternative to trade in goods. To this end, trade policy strategies must ensure that trade in services complements the activities of other tradeable sectors and seek to maximise how services can support the value added activities.
“We must successfully marry the two to achieve the best economic outcome in terms of increased levels of employment, contribution to GDP, diversification and export markets. The provision of services will support the expansion of business in other sectors as well as through online presence and the effective use of E-Commerce platforms. This potentially broadens participation in the emerging economic sectors by the ordinary citizen, and thus participating and benefitting from wealth creation.”
The Minister pointed out that with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic several businesses have moved away from the confines of office spaces to trade their goods, thereby reducing the cost of providing services, which has opened up new possibilities for small economies in remote locations with high transport costs to broaden participation.
In light of this, she noted that individuals must be able to see the possibilities that exist beyond Barbados’ geographical border and have the boldness to seize them.
“With technology, services can expand significantly across territories minimising the need for the movement of persons. However, unlike goods, the quality dimension is driven by the service person. Therefore, the individual must have the focus and skills to meet the challenge of ensuring that quality levels are impeccable. This tenacity must come from within. Constant vigilance is necessary,” she stated.
Minister Husbands emphasised that Government and the private sector have a role to play in enabling an environment that focuses on both trade in goods and trade in services.
“We have to encourage persons to engage in the creation of content to demonstrate as well as preserve our cultural identity and traditional folklore. Government policy must develop initiatives which move people past entertainment and consumption to creation and commerce.”
Some of the ways to do this, she suggested, include encouraging new norms and customs; enacting up-to-date laws, regulations, policies; negotiating mutually beneficial international trade agreements; increasing use of technology – “which has become a basic tool and game changer, an opportunity for many”, and putting in place appropriate public infrastructure that continues to support trade.
Minister Husbands also noted that another key element in enabling trade services going forward must be the education of persons.
“Educational strategies which foster innovation and critical thinking are necessary if we are to bolster trade and provide the base from which innovation and execution can successfully take place. We need all persons to be thinkers, creative, curious and innovative,” she said.