Local professionals across a range of industries including the cultural and performing arts are being encouraged to do more business in the region as well as in Europe.
However, Minister of International Business, Industry, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss says for this to take place it is critical that bilateral agreements, that would promote trade and facilitate market access between each country in the region as well as between the European Union, were put in place.
Over the years a number of mutual recognition agreements have been negotiated that would be the basis for greater market access to the European market.
The MRAs aim to create business opportunities for regional professionals to work in the EU market, benefiting both jurisdictions both financially and developmentally.
“We need to conclude mutual recognition agreements between the relevant professional associations in CARIFORUM states and counterparts in Europe in order to facilitate trade in services both intra-regionally and into the EU markets. If we can’t get it right at home we are not going to get it right when we go to the EU,” said Inniss.
“The truth of the matter is that here in the Caribbean region we must ensure that our cultural artists, whether artists, the performers or those in the professional services, that there is that level of respect and recognition throughout the region. If a Barbadian cultural professional or one from one of the professional disciplines cannot even go into St Lucia or Antigua and do their work, having gotten a level of mutual recognition, you really think anybody in the EU should be taking us on? I say no. So we have to get it right at home but at the same time we have the opportunity to do it simultaneously,” he said.
Inniss also called on entrepreneurs here to make themselves export ready, adding that it was critical that they know how to develop satisfactory business proposals.
Stating that some people in the private sector here were “dinosaur” and would not even go beyond the Grantley Adams International Airport, Inniss said “it takes unique culture and mindset to get businesses to look beyond the border, to get them export ready and to get them to be truly international”.
“I keep saying that we cannot grow out our economy, create more entrepreneurs if we limit our thinking and our market to just Barbados.
The Commerce Minister pledged that his ministry would continue to give full support to local and regional private sector developmental organizations to ensure the mutual recognition arrangements were put in place to ensure that local artists can go around the region as well as further afield.
Inniss was addressing the recent Beyond the Border: A Practical Approach to Economic Sustainability seminar at the Radisson Aquatica Resort.