Barbados is in the process of developing a new trade policy with two of its South American trade partners – Suriname and Guyana, Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Sandra Husbands has revealed.
This comes as the region’s chambers of commerce form a new network to help bolster regional trade and tackle a range of issues that continue to affect commerce.
“Barbados is in the process of improving its trade and economic cooperation with Suriname. We have therefore stationed a special envoy in that country who will have discussions with both the private and public sector thereby ensuring that measures are in place for improved trading and economic cooperation between both countries,” Husbands told the launch of the Network of Caribbean Chambers of Commerce (CARICHAM) at the Accra Beach Hotel on Monday.
Pointing out that business support organisations were critical to the formation of trade policies, Husbands said the input from the chambers of commerce would be factored into any decision taken by local authorities.
“We are also embarking on an exercise to develop a similar relationship with Guyana in the very near future, and I am giving the chamber notice that their input will be much needed,” she said.
Husbands said it was her hope that the new CARICHAM will act as “a powerful lobby” and partner in helping to shape and improve how the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) works.
“By collaborating around a common goal of maximizing our regional space and hopefully regional joint initiatives to secure opportunities across the globe, this network can be a powerful transformation tool of Caribbean fortunes,” said Husbands.
Through a set of memoranda of understanding, 16 of the region’s chambers have come together to, among other things, share ideas and best practices relating to natural disasters, better manage resources and help to develop regional policies that will benefit members.
The MOU is valid for three years, and will be extended indefinitely at the end.
Deputy Regional Chairman of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) Nahuel Arenas said natural disasters continued to hamper the region’s trade and impact negatively on the countries’ Gross Domestic Product.
He said the hope was that CARICHAM would help policymakers in the region to better understand, analyze and manage their risks, invest in resilience and put systems in place to recover faster and better after a natural disaster.
“We can either continue building risk or make the decision to build resilience,” said Arenas.
“We need resilient communities, we need resilient economies and we need resilient businesses,” he said, adding that the hope was that the network would create “a culture of prevention”.