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Barbados holds talks with Sweden

Dame Billie Miller, Senior Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados recently held talks with Swedens Ambassador to Barbados, His Excellency Mr. Sten Ask. The Ambassador was accompanied by Swedens Honorary Consul in Barbados, Mr. Rawle Brancker.

The Senior Minister and the Ambassador discussed global trade issues, regional trading arrangements, the status of trade and tourism flows between the two countries, the potential for revising the Double Taxation Agreement between the two countries, cooperation on the care of the elderly, United Nations reform, mechanisms for cooperation within CARICOM, achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the vulnerabilities and special security concerns of Small Island Developing States such as Barbados.

Dame Billie took the opportunity to update Ambassador Ask on the Regions efforts in trade negotiations within the contexts of the World Trade Organization, the Free Trade Area of the Americas and for the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Caribbean under the EU/ACP arrangement.

Both the Ambassador and Dame Billie agreed that the Double Taxation agreement signed by the two countries should be re-examined in an effort to promote a higher level of economic and investment activity between Barbados and Sweden.

On the subject of tourism, the Senior Minister expressed concern about the significant decline of tourist arrivals from Sweden between 1998 and 2004. Lack of sufficient airlift was identified as the main reason. The Senior Minister pointed out that the Barbados Tourism Authority was working on its marketing strategy to revitalise arrivals out of the Scandinavian market.

Discussions also touched on health and the care of the elderly. The Swedish Ambassador was informed of Barbados interest in Swedens efforts in caring for the elderly since Sweden is a world leader in the care for the elderly and disabled.

Ambassador Ask indicated his countrys willingness to cooperate in the area of health care given Swedens strength in research and development in this field, as evidenced by the winning of a Nobel Prize in Medicine and similar achievements. The Swedish Ambassador also stressed his countrys competitive advantage in information technology, environmental matters, biotechnology, food and music. The Ambassador further proposed cooperation between the University of the West Indies and a corresponding educational institution in Sweden.

Barbados and Sweden established diplomatic relations in 1976.     

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