Barbados should be preparing to exploit available opportunities in Cuba rather than fearfully anticipating crippling competition if American restrictions on that country are eased.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Maxine McClean said this was the stance she was personally taking, and one others in Barbados should also adopt.
She was speaking in the Senate today as members debated the Value Added Tax (Barbados Network Programme) (Validation) Bill, 2012, which contains provisions to make the lives of Barbadians returning home much easier.
McClean said the island’s foreign policy reflected its appreciation about the importance of continual engagement with countries like Cuba.
“In recent times many people have been saying our tourist industry needs to start to fear the opening up of the Cuban market and I say to myself ‘that is a very strange way of thinking, that’s a very negative way of thinking’,” the minister said.
“In these things we should see opportunities in the same way that many of our regional neighbours have done so and what I see as that country’s political system and economic system evolves is the opportunity for creative persons to take advantage of that evolution and to see it as potential for partnership, rather (than) seeing it as potential competition, which would do damage to us.
“But my way of thinking perhaps is one that should be adopted by a lot of other people and really and truly there are opportunities for that to happen,” she added.
The official said Government was keen to fully engage its large Diaspora, in addition to making it easier to reconnect with the land of their birth or descent.
“Barbadians in the Diaspora, whether they are there as part of a Government assignment, whether they are there as private citizens and so on … are making significant contributions and in fact helping to shape and execute our foreign policy,” she said. (SC)