The local commercial sector is worried about the possible impact for business here of yesterday’s surprise election results in the United States in which the Republican candidate, businessman Donald Trump defeated the favourite, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
And President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Eddie Abed, anxious over Trump’s hostile and nativist rhetoric during the campaign, told Barbados TODAY he could only hope for a different man in the White House from the Trump who threatened to deport the estimated 11.3 million illegal immigrants, build a wall along the US border with Mexico and reverse many of the social policies introduced by president Barack Obama which were beneficial to people of Caribbean descent.
For now, all Barbadian businesses can do is wait and see, Abed said.
“I am hoping that his rhetoric was a lot more venomous than his actual stewardship as the president of the United States [will be]. I can only assume and hope so. Absolutely, it is too early to say [but] I think Barbadian businessmen like any other Barbadians are surprised at the results. It is beyond comprehension in my mind, but it is a reality now and we are going to all have to come to deal with it and as I say we are hoping that his bark is a lot worse than his bite,” the BCCI head said.
News of Trump’s victory sent jittery global markets spiralling, and although Wall Street reacted positively,
experts have warned that the global economy faces a very uncertain future.
Abed compared yesterday’s election result to Britain’s Brexit vote in June, following which the pound fell to a 30-year-low and is yet to recover.
The businessman said Americans must now ask themselves some tough questions about their country’s position in the world and its responsibility as the world’s richest nation.
Regarding Trump’s stated policy on immigration, Abed expressed concern over the impact it would have on members of the Caribbean Diaspora, particularly the undocumented ones.
In any event, he predicted, mass deportation would not only hurt Barbadian and Caribbean economies, mostly through the loss of remittances, but said American businesses would also take a hit.
The BCCI head explained that it was through the low wages that people living illegally in the US were paid that businesses there were able to keep prices down.
Any mass deportation, he said, would result in an immediate impact on prices and the merchant class on a whole.
“Americans like to go into the supermarkets and buy carrots for $0.99 cents a pound and tomatoes for $0.99 a pound, for example, and the only way one can achieve that is by paying labour under the minimum wage. And the labour that does that work for the Americans in America is undocumented, illegal immigrants.
“So the dilemma is that if you get rid of all of these undocumented illegal [immigrants], how are you going to be able to sell produce, which is very labour intensive, at a price that the consumers in America expect and demand? So that is an issue they are going to have to deal with. Not to mention that these undocumented [workers] pay taxes and they pay other social services that will immediately dry up once you get rid of them. That is a whole issue they are going to have to come to deal with and realize and put some form of mechanism in place,” Abed warned.