Minister of International Business, Industry, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss says he is “excited” about the prospects of having more Barbadian products and services readily accessible to the international Diaspora.
However, he is concerned that the country as a whole is not aggressive enough in taking advantage of the available export opportunities.
“I think that [the Diaspora] is a market that we have to be a little more aggressive in pursuing, getting more of products into their catchment area,” Inniss said, while highlighting the size of the overseas market.
“If they were really working with us, and us with them, we could probably do a lot of exports of distinct Barbadian products to their markets,” he added.
Inniss emphasized that while several local companies have benefited from regional trade missions organized by the state-run Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, he was eager to see more of them taking advantage of the opportunities available under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), signed by CARIFORUM states and the European Union in Barbados in October 2008 to govern future trade between the two regions.
Under the agreement, the EU allows CARIFORUM duty-free and quota-free access to its market in all goods and services, with CARIFORUM agreeing to open 80 per cent of its market to the Europeans.
However, Inniss is not satisfied with the level of trade being done with the French territories, for example.
“They are part of the European regime and there are some opportunities there going forward,” he said, adding that as far as he was aware there were presently no tariff restrictions on Barbadian products.
However, the Government spokesman cautioned that non-tariff barriers could arise in the form of regulations, standards and delays at ports of entry.
He further cautioned local businesses that “if we want to get into other people’s markets with our goods and services we have to be prepared to allow them into our market and into our space.
“On one hand you get guys sometimes saying, ‘we need to charge more duties on some goods coming in here’, and then on the other hand saying, ‘I want to get my products into this market, can you help us get a lower rate of duty going into their market?’ And that is always a tough balancing act,” he added.
“It is never an easy task, but we have to continue to work on these matters,” he stressed.