Minister of International Business, Industry, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss has promised an expansion of the rum industry, with intentions of increasing the export potential of the alcoholic beverage.
Saying the industry contributed just over $65 million to the Barbados economy in 2012 and around the same up to the third quarter of last year, Inniss said apart from the foreign exchange the industry provided jobs for hundreds of people.
“The rum industry is very critical to this economy,” he said.
Inniss was delivering remarks during the Rums Of Barbados Master Mixer prize giving ceremony at Bagnall’s Point, Pelican Village today.
He said it was his intention to have his ministry work closely with the Ministry of Agriculture to “dramatically increase the earnings to the Barbados economy from the rum industry”. He also stated that Government would “continue to inject funds into the development of the industry” to ensure that the best types of technologies were being employed.
“As we continue to unravel our challenges in this economy we recognize that we have to earn more foreign exchange and save foreign exchange, and one of the ways of saving is by making greater use of what we produce here in Barbados, including the spirits,” Inniss said.
“We intend to make it a greater part of our export thrust as we seek to generate more foreign exchange . . . . There will be greater efforts to get further into the diaspora market because we believe that is a part of our home market that we have to reach into,” he said.
The minister said instructions would be given to the Corporate Affairs Intellectual Property Office (CAIPO) to work with the Barbados Investment & Development Corporation (BIDC) in terms of intellectual property issues relating to rum.
“At the end of the day we need to ensure, through geographical indicators and other means that when one speaks of rum, that Barbados get its fair share for the use of the name through our IP as well,” said Inniss.
Since last year the Government has been seeking to get the United States to lower or remove its subsidy on rum in its rum producing nations so locally and regionally produced rums could effectively compete with rums from those United States territories. That, said Inniss, was still “a work in progress”.
In her comments, Sue Springer, executive vice-president of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA), said the rums of Barbados helped to bring attention to the island, adding that it was key “not only for tourism growth, but for attracting direct foreign investors”.
“This type of commitment to building strong identifiable brands in the international market with premier products as our rums are is imperative in today’s global perspective,” said Springer.
During the ceremony the six mixologists who made it to the finals were presented with their gifts from the organizers and sponsors.