Government is preparing to breathe new life into the international business sector, developing new markets and expanding its human resource capacity in a bid to revive the island’s second main foreign exchange earner.
The new man in charge, Minister of Industry, International Business Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, gave notice of this last night, as he voiced concern that Barbados was “no longer the principal domicile of choice within the Caribbean”.
He was speaking as the general Estimates Debate concluded, and the House of Assembly met in committee to discuss the budgets for individual ministries, starting with the portfolios held by the St. James South MP.
Inniss said part of the strategic focus for the upcoming financial year was targeted “expansion and diversification of the Barbados markets in order to attract additional clients that are consistent with our economic goals.
“So we certainly have to expand our market reach therein… I, like many others, am concerned that over time there are many other jurisdictions that have certainly somewhat almost caught up with Barbados and Barbados is no longer the principal domicile of choice within the Caribbean as perhaps we were many years ago,” he stated.
“And it is not entirely because of our making in Barbados. The truth of the matter is that there are other jurisdictions that have recognised the potential of the international business sector to their own economy and therefore did what they had to do to attract enterprises to their shores and hence compete aggressively with Barbados.
“I am satisfied that Barbados has the intellectual skills, we have the products and we can certainly have the wherewithal and the political drive to once again ensure that Barbados is the domicile of choice for those discerning investors who are looking for market place … to locate their international and hence expand their global reach,” he added.
The minister was pleased, however, that within years the island “made major strides in terms of product development”, noting that “at the end of the day the international business sector is driven by and large by the products that we bring to market and it’s just like any other business, if you become stagnant in what you are offering and how you are doing it you will lose business”.
“And the international business sector certainly has to operate with that frame of mind, whereby it has to be … knowing who its competitors are, understanding what the competitors are offering, understanding what our potential customers are demanding and retooling and reshaping our products and services to ensure that we can meet that demand and pretty much stay ahead of the game,” he said.
Inniss said the aim was to ensure the international business sector remained “a key driver of sustainable economic growth and development in Barbados”. “We hear all about tourism as the main engine of growth in this society, … but I think that once a careful analysis is done one ought to have a greater appreciation that the international business sector is indeed as important to this economy as others are,” he told the MPs. (SC)