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In order for Barbados to build prosperity in today’s world of trade, Government and local businesses must pursue trade with non-traditional partners.

Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands shared this view this morning while addressing The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados’ (ICAB) virtual annual conference under the theme ‘Purpose Passion Possibilities’.

Speaking on the topic ‘Possibilities of East-West Trade’, the minister pointed out that the term East-West Trade has transitioned to South-South Trade, which basically means that developing countries seek to form partnerships with countries of the South on a bilateral, regional, intraregional or interregional basis.

The Minister explained that through its foreign policy, the Ministry was seeking to create a realignment to a South-South destiny.  According to her, this realignment does not mean that Barbados will be ignoring the north, but will simply be diversifying and adding more countries to its portfolio for trade.

Minister Husbands stated: “One of the things that is very important to us as part of our national initiative is that we need to pursue trade with non-traditional partners. That is the only way we’re going to overcome the vulnerability of our economy, which has a narrow set of goods that it trades in [and] it has not changed much in 15 years.

“Our top 10 exports are still generally the same, and we are seeking to trade these in a narrow set of markets and that is a recipe for extreme vulnerability. So our government has been looking at building new relationships, and we’ve been seeking to intensify our engagement on the East-West, South-South corridor so that we’re able to build a new set of trading relationships that will help us.”

Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands

“Our top 10 exports are still generally the same, and we are seeking to trade these in a narrow set of markets and that is a recipe for extreme vulnerability. So our government has been looking at building new relationships, and we’ve been seeking to intensify our engagement on the East-West, South-South corridor so that we’re able to build a new set of trading relationships that will help us.”

She also noted that it was important to understand that all trade takes place within a political context and that political context determines the conditions and terms of trade and other areas. She added that businesses needed to understand how that works and how it impacts Barbados’ engagement in trade spaces.

The Minister with responsibility for trade also advised participants that local businesses needed to find ways to diversify in order to grow, which meant looking outside of Barbados.

She told the attendees that as finance officers, they can play a role in helping their businesses seize possibilities in trade. 

Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands. (FP)

“We need to look at export and we need to look at investment in other countries that we can build enterprises of scale that will allow us to do more in terms of trade, and therefore our chief accounting officers, our financial directors, our top accounting people at the top of our organisations have to be a part of the leadership.

“And this speaks to your purpose in this moment to be able to work with your enterprise to broaden its horizon and to plot a path, develop a strategy and execute it to help your enterprise to transition to an export model or to an investment model that will allow your enterprise to grow and collectively allow Barbados to grow,” Minister Husbands advised.

She also told attendees in order to achieve growth and prosperity, the purpose going forward is to further enhance the working relationship between the private sector and government; this would involve to name a few: in-depth talks on the opportunities available; working together to formulate a national strategy; investing; training and improving standards.

“While government will seek to create and increase avenues for trade among its CARICOM partners, Latin America and more recently the African continent, we can’t do it alone…. CARICOM has to work together, enterprises have to work together, not to compete, but to cooperate so that we build strength that we can maximise these opportunities; and the only way we can do that is if we can build trust.”

Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands

Concluding, the Minister underscored the benefits that would accrue to Barbados with an increase in South-South Trade.

“While government will seek to create and increase avenues for trade among its CARICOM partners, Latin America and more recently the African continent, we can’t do it alone…. CARICOM has to work together, enterprises have to work together, not to compete, but to cooperate so that we build strength that we can maximise these opportunities; and the only way we can do that is if we can build trust. Trust is essential to be able to give people the confidence to release their financial and human capital,” Minister Husbands stressed.

She appealed to members of ICAB and similar entities to start looking for innovative ways to assist their businesses with achieving the national goal of South-South cooperation. 

sheena.forde-craigg@barbados.gov.bb

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