Barbados Investment and Development Corporation and Belize’s Ministry of Investment, Trade and Commerce brought the Barbados Commercial Mission to Belize Expo. Today ten companies from Barbados were represented at the expo. The ministry of Trade and Development is working towards new sectors of revenue through foreign investment and partnership with our Caribbean communities. Tracy Panton, Minister of State, spoke to Love News and stated that the National trade policy will be introduced in February 2020.
Tracy Taegar – Panton, Minister of Trade & Commerce: “You know for some time we have been talking about regional integration and we’ve been talking about really creating a single market and economy. Today is a mission of Barbadian exporters who are looking at doing business with their counterparts in Belize and that is where I think this bid for regionalization really starts when we are able to put business contacts together and promote a Caribbean made commodities in all our territories. Well you know we are always very busy trying to promote trade, investment and more importantly commerce. BelTraide our implementing agency has been integral in the planning of this mission and in supporting the business to business meetings that are being had throughout the week. You know that in CARICOM Belize has a surplus where it relates to trade so we are trading more commodities with CARICOM than CARICOM trades with us. Most of our agriculture based products are bought from CARICOM countries including Barbados. So about now over the past five years I think if my statistics are right there’s been an almost even balance of trade between Barbados and Belize and we expect it to continue in that fashion. We’d like to stop importing so much from third party countries and start importing more from Caribbean nations because we don’t only help our local economy we help our regional economy and that’s important for the region to survive. I think once Belizeans are introduced to the high quality products that are coming from Barbados it will be very difficult for them not to buy our regional products. We promote as you know Belizean made products as best as we can, we have a limited array of commodities that are on our shelves and I think we need to do more not only as a country but as a region to ensure that all our shelves in every part of our country has products that have the proud brand of made in the Caribbean. Today we are planting the seed and we have to nurture that seed. You don’t plant a seed and it bears fruit right away, it has to be nurtured, the relationships need to be cemented, the commercial agreements need to be put in place and it all starts today.”
Paula Bourne, Manager of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, stated that there are mechanisms available when trade barriers are encountered.
Paula Bourne, Manader, BIDC: “First of all we are all one Caribbean people and we definitely feel a bond between us and all our Caribbean brothers. As part of CARICOM we recognize that CARICOM is a major market in terms of trade and so Belize is one of the countries that we are focusing on in the northern Caribbean and we will also be doing some missions to the southern Caribbean as well. Belize is the first one we have identified in the northern Caribbean because we believe that within CARICOM we need enhance our trading relations within CARICOM so that we can as a region become self reliant. We have a company Cott Holdings it’s called and we recognize that like Barbados we’ve recently introduced legislation to ban plastics and Styrofoam and those types of products so we recognize that Belize is also doing that and we’ve introduced an innovative product that is environmentally sustainable food containers so we have that company is one of those that we expect will be able to introduce those products into Belize that would be beneficial. We have a number of sauces and condiment companies and because of our shared history and pallet we believe that some of those sauces and condiments will do well as well. We have some printing companies that are already doing business in Belize and are here to strengthen those linkages and there is a new one as well that is in the market and hoping to enhance it’s business opportunities in Belize. In addition to that we have two other service companies, one in software development and the other one is in business consulting. The dream is really to see Caribbean products as the primary products that are used throughout the Caribbean so we are not just here to look for opportunities to sell our products but we recognize that we get a lot of raw materials from Belize as it stands. As a matter of fact the trade balance between Barbados and Belize is in favor of Belize so it could almost be a case of using some of the raw materials from Belize, producing those products in Barbados and even reintroducing them in finished form to the Belizean market. So we think that the products are quality products and when Belizeans have the opportunity to taste them we will be supporting our manufacturers by doing a lot of sampling in the market once they are introduced into the super markets and so on and we think that once the price is right under the CSME, there is duty free access, once the price is right and the products are attractive and what people are looking for that they will speak for themselves.”
Both parties are eager to form a mutual and beneficial partnership by endorsing Caribbean merchandise.