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Export Challenge

Article written by Maria Bradshaw


Barbados exported $336 million in locally produced goods last year but could do much better, Minister of Industry Donville Inniss said yesterday.

He gave no comparative figures while on a tour of Roberts Manufacturing, one of Barbados’ oldest manufacturers of cooking oil, butter and feed.

Inniss revealed that Trinidad and Tobago was the main export market recording $96 million in exports, followed by Guyana with $48 million and St Lucia with $29 million.

However, he said while these figures might appear significant to the average person, Barbados could export much more.

He also acknowledged that a lot of time and resources was sometimes spent going after the Canadian, American and the British markets, which he admitted were sometimes expensive to get into, while lamenting that enough was not being spent in expanding the Caribbean Community CARICOM) market with its duty preferences.

“I am concerned that in recent times we have not been spending enough resources seeking not just to maintain but to expand the CARICOM market that is there for us,” he said.

“We are looking for more strategic alliances between buyers in the CARICOM markets and even in some instances those who can add value for our products going into their markets.”

The minister said Government was continuing to work with CARICOM counterparts to ensure barriers to entry were removed and that, wherever possible, favouritism was given to products made within the region.

He further disclosed that the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation would be working on the expansion of the export of goods and services from Barbados into neighbouring markets.

In relation to the tour of the Lower Estate, St George plant, Inniss said he was impressed with the facility which has been in existence for 71 years.

“Visits like these help to solidify in our minds as policymakers what kinds of things we need to do to help get more Barbadian products into the regional market.

“We can’t quarrel about what is coming into our space; we have to do more to get into regional markets.”

Praising the company for managing to keep its 160 workers employed despite stiff competition, Inniss said Government was committed to helping companies like Roberts to maintain and expand its share of the domestic market as well as the regional market.