BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday November 1, 2019 – Businesses in Barbados are being urged to deepen trade with Caribbean Community (CARICOM) neighbours Suriname and Guyana,
The call was made this week by Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands, at a Business to Business Forum on Trading Opportunities in Suriname and Guyana, who said Barbados was already exploring opportunities for development in the two countries in agriculture, agro-processing, construction, renewable energy, tourism, education, and services.
“As enterprises take advantage of the provisions initiated by the accelerated CSME [CARICOM Single Market and Economy], you convert the promise of the single market into a felt reality by the region’s people. When we succeed today in starting the engagement of trading and investing within these three markets, our people get work in vibrant enterprises; our graduates have reasons to stay and work in the region; and capital gets the opportunity to be employed in profitable ventures,” Husbands said.
The Foreign Trade Minister contended that finding success under the CSME would not only reduce the region’s dependence on others, but would empower governments to fulfil their promises of providing social services and access for all, and to improve the standard of living for all citizens.
Minister Husbands stressed that individual CARICOM states were subjected to external impacts from trade wars, economic shifts in larger countries, de-risking, attacks by international organizations on rules of trade and rules of taxation, as well as the threat of climate change.
“Internally, we are hampered by small markets with limited consumption because of our small populations which make for a limited tax base. This hobbles our governments’ capacity to provide the goods and services demanded by populations. Small markets make for small enterprises that are challenged by difficulties of capital and cannibalism
are rendered incapable of producing the sustained revenue governments need for services,” she stated.
Husbands noted that because regional governments relied heavily on import duties to supplement revenues earned from the productive sectors, it made the cost of living high for citizens and the cost of business uncompetitive.
She also pointed out that the Treaty of Chaguaramas was signed to bring into being a CARICOM vision to create a single space that would give all states the opportunity to build a market to ensure economic development and prosperity.
Meantime, Prime Minister Mia Mottley has underscored the importance of Suriname-Barbados business relations, saying there are phenomenal trade and investment opportunities with that South American country.
She made the comments at a reception at Ilaro Court for members of the Suriname delegation, following their participation in the Business to Business Forum that attracted more than 400 people.
Mottley said her government was firmly of the view that its decision to partner with Suriname and Guyana was a necessary one.
“You have what we don’t have and we have some of what you may want and therefore the complementarity between the two countries is absolutely clear,” she said.
The Prime Minster added that trade facilitation was extremely important to the government, and very early it had looked at how it could assist individuals and companies in that area.
Mottley, who has lead responsibility for CSME, is firmly of the view that the majority of the fruit and food which could not be produced here should be imported from other CARICOM countries.
“We are spending US$5 billion a year in imports to bring food in from outside the region. It is nonsense and we need to stop it. We need to be able to help each other, and to participate with each other where we can,” she contended.
Prime Minister Mottley also reiterated her view that there is a need for sea and air bridges in the region to ensure business can be further facilitated.