With more opportunities set to open up across CARICOM in the near future, Barbadian businesses are being urged to immediately raise the standard of goods and services in order to compete, Minister of Foreign Trade Sandra Husbands has said.
She predicted that within the next few years, Suriname, Haiti and Guyana will be rife with opportunities for local businesses to spread their wings.
“There are three nations that are going to provide us with even more opportunity and those three nations would be Haiti, Guyana and Suriname. Haiti is over seven million people. Most people think of Haiti as just being poor, but business is still happening in Haiti…. As a nation that is seeking to grow, it has needs for both goods and services to be able to catch up with the rest of the region,” said Husbands, who was delivering opening remarks for the Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants’ (CICMC) workshop on ISO 20700 at the Accra Beach Hotel.
Guyana, which is largely underpopulated but set to begin pumping oil by 2020, will open up opportunities for Barbadian and regional businesses to easily position themselves to convert new-found wealth to real economic growth, she said.
“They will need service providers to help them build the opportunity which is being presented to them in the form of their oil findings, which will bring tremendous wealth and opportunities into the Guyana space. The Caribbean needs to be ready to help Guyana. Not that they lack people with skills in terms of the quality of their work but that they simply lack the numbers that would be necessary to convert that opportunity into real economic growth,” she said.
But the foreign trade Minister stressed that opportunities would only be possible if businesses changed a “provincial approach” and factored in the regional and global space. She contended that Barbadian goods and services needed to be of a standard that is worthy of global markets. Husbands argued that this is pivotal to the very survival of local and region firms.
“It is absolutely necessary that the region makes an upward turn to improve the quality of its goods, its services, its competitiveness. It must be able now to penetrate markets near and far operating on a global scale. More and more there is a shrinking space within which we operate into national agencies, international bodies and organizations constantly erect barriers, change rules, change requirements that continue to squeeze the space for small nations to earn a living,” she noted.
Husbands expressed confidence that Barbados already has the necessary skillset to make the necessary upgrades in the near future.
“We are capable of it because this region has given its citizens the opportunity to be educated at top quality institutions. Our people have gone abroad, studied at various universities and have made an indelible mark wherever they have gone,” the Minister contended.