Officials are projecting a ten per cent increase in exports to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), following a five-day trade mission to St Lucia, Grenada and Guyana late last month.
Speaking at a media conference called by the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) yesterday to report on the trip, Minister of International Business, Commerce and Industry Donville Inniss noted that between January and September last year, the island exported some $259 million in goods to the 15-nation grouping.
“We expect that on the current trajectory we will certainly exceed that in 2016 where we are estimating to get up to $285 million in exports to the CARICOM region from Barbados,” said Inniss, who also pointed out that in 2014 Barbados exported about $284 million in goods to the region.
“While these figures may seem significant, we don’t get there just by sitting here in Barbados and believing that others will buy what we produce. That is why the board and management of the BIDC took the decision that we really need to get up and go into the marketplace with those companies and service providers that we know are export-ready, and to do so in a manner that will build strong linkages with partners in the other islands,” he said.
Explaining the objectives of the trade mission, Inniss said: “We need to increase the export of goods and services from Barbados worldwide.
“We certainly believe that we have to start with the Caribbean region, which is indeed the largest export market for goods and services from Barbados and certainly the one that offers the greatest potential to increase our exports in,” he said.
Inniss further explained that St Lucia, Grenada and Guyana were chosen for the mission given their current volume of exports, as well as their established relations with Barbados.
Between January and September 2015, $27.3 million in goods were exported to St Lucia, compared to $14.6 million to Grenada and $49.9 million to Guyana.
“We believe that we can do better,” said Inniss, noting that the targeted companies were either already exporting or in a position to satisfy any demands from those markets.
Another key objective of the mission was to expose the local manufacturers and service providers to “what is happening in the marketplace”.
Describing it as a tremendous success, Inniss pointed to the signing of memorandum of understandings “with sister agencies” in St Lucia and Grenada and the strengthening of existing policies with Guyana.
BIDC Chief Executive Officer Sonja Trotman also described the mission, which involved approximately 14 company representatives, as a success, saying there would be follow ups to “assist us to increase our exports to CARICOM by ten per cent at the end of 2016 as projected”.
Meanwhile, the BIDC’s Manager of Export Promotion and Development Division Paul Waithe said the agency was currently considering a mission to the northern CARICOM countries, which should be followed by a similar mission the southern part of the region.