Barbados has been negotiating the same “top ten exports” to the same markets for too long, exposing the country to economic vulnerability, Foreign Trade Minister Sandra Husbands said Thursday.
She noted that Barbados has started a “realignment” towards a new trading destiny in which it sells more of its goods and services to other developing countries rather than relying on the markets of wealthy industrialized countries in the North.
âThis is the only way to overcome the vulnerability of our economy, which has a restricted set of goods that it trades. [and] that hasn’t changed much in 15 years, âHusbands said in a speech to the Barbados Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAB) virtual annual conference under the theme, Objective Passion Possibilities.
Talk about the topic East-West trade opportunities, the minister said that the term East-West Trade has become South-South Trade, in which developing countries seek to form partnerships with other countries of the South on a bilateral, regional, intraregional or interregional basis.
She said Bridgetown had altered its foreign policy to create a realignment towards a South-South destiny. According to her, this realignment does not mean that Barbados will ignore the north, but will diversify and add more countries to its trade portfolio.
The husbands said, âOne of the things that is very important to us as part of our national initiative is that we need to continue to trade with non-traditional partners.
âOur top 10 exports are still generally the same, and we’re looking to trade them in a narrow set of markets and that’s a recipe for extreme vulnerability. So our government has sought to establish new relationships and we have sought to intensify our engagement on the east-west, south-south corridor so that we can establish a new set of trade relationships that will help us. “
Noting the importance of understanding that all trade takes place in a political context, she added that businesses need to understand how the political arena affects Barbados’ engagement in trade.
She added: âAs the government seeks to create and expand trade channels between its partners in CARICOM, Latin America and more recently the African continent, we cannot do it aloneâ¦. CARICOM must work together, businesses must work together, not to compete, but to cooperate to strengthen our strengths to maximize these opportunities; and the only way to do that is to build trust. Confidence is essential to be able to give people the confidence to unleash their financial and human capital.
The Minister of Foreign Trade also informed participants that Barbadian businesses must find ways to diversify in order to grow, which means looking outside Barbados.
She told the ICAB conference that financial officers can play a role in helping their businesses seize business opportunities.
The husbands said: “We have to look to export and we have to look at investments in other countries to create big companies that will allow us to do more in terms of trade, and therefore our accountants, our CFOs, our best accountants at the top of our organizations must be part of the leadership.
“And that speaks to your goal right now to be able to work with your business to broaden its horizon and chart a course, develop a strategy and execute it to help your business shift to an export model or a model of export. investment that will allow your business to grow and collectively enable Barbados to grow.
She also described to accountants three key areas for a working relationship between the private sector and government: in-depth discussions of available opportunities; work together to formulate a national strategy; invest; training and improvement of standards.
She called on ICAB members to start looking for innovative ways to help their businesses achieve the goal of South-South cooperation. (BT / BGIS)