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REMARKS DELIVERED BY THE HON. C. SANDRA HUSBANDS ON 

THE OCCASION OF BARBADOS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY EVENT: DOING BUSINESS WITH GUYANA

BARBADOS HILTON RESORT

27 FEBRUARY 2019

8:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Mr. Ezra Prescod, President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Mr. Deodat Indar, President – Georgetown Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Mr. Carlos Wharton, Executive Director of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Members of the Business Community

Other Specially Invited Guests,

Members of the Media;

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

It is my pleasure to be here with you today as you discuss doing business with Guyana, a country with which Barbados has historical links.  Mr. Indar, it is my pleasure to join others in welcoming you to Barbados at a time it is necessary to develop meaningful and mutually beneficial partnerships across different strata, sectors and institutions. 

As governments, we set ourselves goals which are aimed at achieving sustainable development as it relates to the economy, people and social services.  None of these is achievable without the involvement and participation of the private sector. 

The much needed revenue, which underpins these activities, is derived primarily from the activities of the private sector and in some instances, from our development partners.  The latter may come at a cost on some occasions.  A cost that the country of Barbados can ill-afford at this time.   

The role of the private sector is very critical.  We are all fully aware that it is the private sector which trades and not the government.  We are also aware that there is an intrinsic link between the quantum of external trade and the level of national development.  The ability to earn foreign exchange is therefore critical to Barbados in achieving the objectives of its BERT program and move towards growth. 

Throughout the passage of time, Barbados and Guyana have both supported each other. With the move towards independence in the region, Guyana was, and still is, seen as the breadbasket of the wider Caribbean.  This led to yet more waves of Barbadians seeking to move to Guyana for better opportunities.  While the model may have shifted a little, this is still the case. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we are operating in an era of uncertainty where external decisions over which we have no control impact us significantly.  Hence the existence of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy which was created in order to further unite the Region in the face of these challenges.  The regimes which are in place relative to the movement of goods, services, investment, capital and free movement of people, auger well with the efforts to deepen relations between Barbados and Guyana at the bilateral level. 

At the level of Government, both sides have sought to deepen cooperation in the interest of both sides.  In 2002, the Barbados-Guyana Joint Economic, Technical and Cultural Cooperation Commission was formed and the inaugural meeting was held in 2007 in Guyana.  The agreement facilitates cooperation in a wide range of areas, including education, health, immigration, trade, information, tourism and marine affairs.  Three meetings have been held to date. 

I can report that a number of capacity building exercises have taken place under the Joint Commission in the focal areas.  As it relates to trade, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Barbados Industrial Development Corporation (BIDC) and the Guyana Office for Investment (GOINVEST) was signed in October 2014. Subsequent to the signing, the two agencies hosted a Business Forum on Thursday May 21, 2015 at the Bagnall’s Point Gallery, Pelican Craft Centre. 

The forum was part of efforts to explore opportunities for foreign direct investment, joint ventures and the sourcing and supply of goods and services between the two countries.  It coincided with the visit of a 30-member delegation from Guyana, that participated in Barbados Manufacturers' Exhibition 2015 held May 22 to 25, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. 

More recently, I can report that in late 2019, I led a delegation including Mr. Wharton from the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry to Guyana with a view to further deepen trade, investment and cooperation.  Those discussions were fruitful and it will require the true spirit of partnership to build on the possibilities which exist.  

I am passionate about regional trade, it is one of the major strands  of opportunity which we must seize. The level of intra-regional imports hovers around 12% of our total imports.  We purchase some 88% of our needs and wants from outside of our region. Is there scope for more regional production?  Would production cooperation and a sound regional investment policy be necessary? This is why our government has moved assiduously under Prime Minister Mottley to pursue bilateral arrangements with Guyana and Suriname. At the level of Caricom discussions continue apace

It is timely that the Joint Commission meets again in order that we can build on the momentum which we have at this moment.  By the presence of Mr. Indar here today, I am assured that both countries continue to hold each other in high regard.  I applaud the two chambers for seeking to further establish linkages between the two countries.  I can pledge the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in this regard. 

The Ministry has had a long and successful relationship with the private sector and its business support organisations in the advancement and formulation of Barbados’ international trade policy and I look forward to this partnership continuing well into the future.  I am pleased to inform that this partnership includes the participation of the private sector in Barbados’ delegation to domestic and external meetings. 

We have a unique opportunity being presented to us to deepen relations with the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.  Let us seize the moment.  Colleagues, I urge you let us make every effort, strain every sinew to give life to the possibilities coming out of the Barbados-Guyana joint commission. Let us think and act outside of our boxes; let us innovate to solve problems rather than discuss them as insurmountable barriers.  It may be a barrier but it is not insurmountable. Ladies and gentlemen let us rise to this occasion which is critical to our nation’s future.