Despite recent economic challenges that have led to several downgrades of Barbados’ international credit rating, this island’s junior minister of foreign trade Sandra Husbands is assuring potential investors that it remains “open for business”.
“Barbados remains open for business, and we are on the way to rebuilding our national credit rating so we can provide investors with the confidence necessary to bring capital and business to our shores,” Husbands told Tuesday’s launch of a new Caribbean Export Development Agency web portal, CE-INTELLIGENCE.
The information portal, which took some five years to develop and was done in association with the European Union, is aimed at providing a “one-stop shop” for Caribbean companies seeking to export products and services, and investors wanting to do business in the region.
Also addressing the launch, Caribbean Export’s Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said export oriented small and medium sized enterprises were facing increased competition both intra regionally and extra-regionally.
She also pointed out that “traditionally they have not had access to the information they need to expand their horizons, such as market information and knowledge of trade agreements”.
“This portal is aimed at identifying, collecting, compiling and disseminating key strategic information to the regional private sector, business support organizations and other key stakeholders,” she added, while noting that this included a listing of financial institutions and opportunities across the Caribbean and step by step export guides which include a series of videos explaining the key elements of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement.
There is also a section on food safety providing information on the market entry requirements for key markets such as the United States, Europe and Canada.
Export Manager with the West India Biscuit Company Lisa Murray, whose firm exports to 22 different countries, spelt out the benefits of the portal.
“Exporting products is a multi-faceted area in which we have to consider the geography, economic indicators, trade agreements, culture, and the major players in our field, and the answers to these questions are never found in one place and may be outdated. Sometimes we have to travel to those countries and meet with the relevant agencies to discuss export opportunities, but CE-INTELLIGENCE will eliminate some of this work, since all the necessary information is available, updated regularly and you can access it from your workplace or home.”
In lending her support to the venture, Husbands said: “My vision is that this portal can serve as an impetus to give others a taste of Barbados. We need to develop new ideas, to galvanize our companies to get into non-traditional markets across the globe, and we stand ready to work with any organization, and are willing to embrace any ideas or initiatives aimed at helping Barbadian companies grow beyond these shores.”