The Freundel Stuart administration is being advised to begin a diplomatic push even before the president-elect of the United States Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president in order to get issues of concern to Barbados on the president’s mind when he takes up office next January.
Executive Director of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados (ICAB) Reginald Farley yesterday said whether or not Barbadians liked the president-elect, it was important to put “our voice into the new administration” seeking the ear of the team preparing for Trump’s presidency.
“We need to either singly as Barbados, or jointly as a Caribbean Community, approach his team,” Farley suggested.
He listed a number of issues of interest to the region that should be placed on the table, including those relating to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the international financial services sector; hassle-free travel; access for Barbadian products into the US and derisking and correspondent banking.
“Having someone like Donald Trump, even though he might not be the choice of Barbadians as the president, gives you an opportunity. He has been so non-specific in his policy prescription during the election that he does not have to be tied to anything. And I believe that his perspective will be as yet outlined in the heart of the deal. So we need really to move early,” Farley stressed.
“So I am saying that there is an opportunity with a new administration, new sets of advisors who may have thought about these matters or may not have thought about them. So let us go in [and say] ‘these are the things that we want, these are the kinds of relations we want’, and let us try to define their view about us and the policies that they put in place, rather than waiting until January, February or March until they are settled. The people have made their choice and we respect their choice, but whomever they have chosen let us move in early with our business concerns.”
ICAB’s President Lisa Padmore was a little more circumspect, saying it was necessary to continue collaborating with the US much as possible, “especially if it will benefit the country of Barbados”.
Meanwhile, Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss appeared to shoot down the Farley recommendation, telling Barbados TODAY there were no new issues to be placed on the table at present.
However, acknowledging that Trump would not take up office until January next year, Inniss said his ministry would “continue to engage our US partners on international tax matters, tax exchange arrangements, correspondent banking issues and access to markets”.
Trump’s campaign was based on a strong nativist agenda, prompting concerns about the possible impact of his foreign policy on relationships and trade arrangements with the rest of the world, including Barbados and the Caribbean.
Inniss told Barbados TODAY the US system of government, which includes the houses of congress, would “readily help any US president appreciate the differences between rhetoric and reality.
“Let us not spend much time reflecting on President Trump and his campaign comments, but rather envisage opportunities that may arise for Barbados, should there be any paradigm shift in public policies delivered from a new thinking at the White House,” Inniss said.