There will be no excuse for not knowing, Minister of Industry, International Business and Small Business Development Donville Inniss has warned private sector operators, as Barbados prepares to remove subsidies on exports.
“I don’t want people to come a year from now to say that they don’t know,” said Inniss.
“The truth of the matter is that a lot of our fiscal incentives, a lot of our subsidies that are paid through the Treasury in terms of tax benefits, even [for the] international business sector and all of those . . . considered to be exporters of products [and services] are certainly under threat because of WTO arrangements.
“We are required – and certainly we were a big advocate for asking for an extension – but we are required by December 2015 to get it right with
respect to that, to have a more level playing field,” the minister explained.
Barbados is expected to make adjustments to its subsidies on export and countervailing measures in order to become compliant with new World Trade Organization rules by December next year. Speaking to a group of private sector operators recently, Inniss said his ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, would be working to ensure the country was able “to adjust to any challenges, going forward”.
According to the WTO, the agreement on subsidies and countervailing measures seeks to discipline the use of subsidies, and regulate the actions countries can take.
In 2012, about 19 developing countries were granted an extension to their transition period to eliminate export subsidies. That extension was granted until the end of 2013, with a final phase-out period of two years, which will end no later than December 31, 2015.
Inniss also expressed concern about the “lack of energy” within the CARICOM arrangements.
“The truth of the matter is that CARICOM has to be a little bit more energetic and involved than it currently is. We cannot go to meeting after meeting, seeing the same faces, discussing the same issues, [seeing] report after report,” the minister said.