Liberalisation not all bad, says B’dos minister

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, July 31, 2008 – Barbados’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and International Business, Christopher Sinckler, has suggested that while there are challenges arising from the liberalisation of agricultural trade, the Caribbean will also have many opportunities from the overall expansion of trade as a whole.

Among these, he said, would be access to larger markets, as well as access to new technologies which could assist in keeping the sector at the cutting edge of efficiency. 

“The challenge arising from trade liberalisation is that of producing agricultural goods at a price and at a quality which can compete either at home or abroad,” the Minister told stakeholders and farmer representatives from over 12 Caribbean countries at a workshop organised by the Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN) in collaboration with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation.

He added that the removal of tariffs to allow for greater competition among countries, would also add to the challenges of a sector already burdened with such factors as uncertainty of rainfall, uncertainty of output due to such things as pests, and uncertainty of prices.

The Foreign Minister told the gathering that the CaFAN meeting was vital in identifying the specific issues which the region should raise with its trading partners as matters that affected trade.

CaFAN, a network of regional farmers association, is based in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.