With an upward trend in the export of products like rum and chemicals, Government is trying to reinforce support for the manufacturing sector through a new strategic plan.
Making some yearly comparisons in the manufacturing sector over a three-year period, Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, said statistics from the Barbados Economic and Social Report showed that in 2009, 8,457 persons were employed in manufacturing — a figure that increased by 1.3 per cent in 2010, but fell by 5.7 per cent by 2011.
Where it concerned contribution to GDP, the minister told a crowd at the opening of BMEX 2013 this morning that the sector earned $507.1 million in 2009, declined by 12.8 per cent in 2010 and rebounded by 12.08 per cent in 2011.
“Exports performance for the consecutive years, 2009-2011 showed an upward trend with exports totalling $119.4 million, $274.9 million and $302 million in the respective years. The main sectors contributing to this performance were the rum and chemical sub-sectors…
“I am concerned however, that when all the hype around BMEX is over, we will still have to get back to facing the reality about our manufacturing sector and ask ourselves some tough questions, including: 1) What are the sub-sectors of our manufacturing sector which truly have the potential to succeed and under what circumstances?”
Relative to the future of the sector, while Government was working on a new strategic plan for the industrial and manufacturing sectors, he said the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation’s own plan was in the final stages.
Within the plans outlined in the new “charted … course of development for the industrial sector”, Inniss said they were seeking to enhance competitiveness of local rum producers by producing and exporting branded rum; there were plans to promote entrepreneurship training and awareness in schools at all levels, along with alternative energy plans to retrofit BIDC estates with solar systems to reduce energy costs.
The BIDC-On-The-Road initiative would be a community outreach strategy through interactive workshops to increase the number of start-up businesses and expand the base of companies exporting; while the Explore to Grow Programme would expand the “base of exportable products” focusing on Barbados blackbelly sheep leather and related products, botanicals and food and beverages, he said. (LB)