This assertion was made today by Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands, as she delivered welcome remarks at a Business to Business Forum on Trading Opportunities in Suriname and Guyana, held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
She said that Barbados was already exploring opportunities for development in Guyana and Suriname in agriculture, agro-processing, construction, renewable energy, tourism, education, and services.
Ms. Husbands added: “As enterprises take advantage of the provisions initiated by the accelerated CSME, you convert the promise of the single market into a felt reality by the region’s people. When we succeed today in starting the engagement of trading and investing within these three markets, our people get work in vibrant enterprises; our graduates have reasons to stay and work in the region; and capital gets the opportunity to be employed in profitable ventures.”
The Foreign Trade Minister contended that finding success under the CSME would not only reduce the region’s dependence on others, but would empower governments to fulfil their promises of providing social services and access for all, and to improve the standard of living for all citizens.
Minister Husbands stressed that individual CARICOM states were subjected to external impacts from trade wars, economic shifts in larger countries, de-risking, attacks by international organizations on rules of trade and rules of taxation, as well as the threat of climate change.
“Internally, we are hampered by small markets with limited consumption because of our small populations which make for a limited tax base. This hobbles our governments’ capacity to provide the goods and services demanded by populations. Small markets make for small enterprises that are challenged by difficulties of capital and cannibalism [and] are rendered incapable of producing the sustained revenue governments need for services,” she stated.
She noted that because regional governments relied heavily on import duties to supplement revenues earned from the productive sectors, it made the cost of living high for citizens and the cost of business uncompetitive.
She also pointed out that the Treaty of Chaguaramas was signed to bring into being a CARICOM vision to create a single space that would give all states the opportunity to build a market to ensure economic development and prosperity.
Ms. Husbands commended Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, who has lead responsibility for the CSME, for tackling the regional effort with “vision and vigour”; working with her colleagues to broaden the number of persons who can move; removing the obstacles to acceptance of skilled certificates; making Contingent Rights a reality; establishing the government procurement portal; and for more fully admitting Haiti and Montserrat into the CSME space.
In her address, Guyana’s Consul General, Cita Pilgrim, described the relationship between Barbados and Guyana as “strong and vibrant”, noting that thanks to Barbados’ leadership, the CSME was “alive and well”.
She expressed the hope that both countries would pool their resources and “so provide an acceptable standard of living for our people”.
Barbados’ Honorary Consul in Suriname, Dr. Robert Power, called for greater cooperation and collaboration between Barbados and Suriname “to make a big difference in food security in the region”, so that by 2050, he said, there would be enough food for all.
The Business to Business Forum was one of a string of initiatives by Government aimed at facilitating trade and development initiatives among CARICOM member states, as part of the CSME.
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