By Theresa Blackman
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (BGIS) -- Minister of industry, international business, commerce and small business development, Donville Inniss, has sought to allay the fears of Trinidadian investors, by making it clear that Barbados is “open for business” and welcomes further investment.
Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss
Addressing Trinidad and Tobago’s Chamber of Commerce at its first quarterly luncheon in Port of Spain on Wednesday morning, Inniss said: “Those of you who have invested in Barbados over the years would certainly have factored in political stability, independent judiciary, little corruption, a large middle class, public service systems that work and freedom of business as some of the factors for your decision to enter and remain in Barbados and, to expand as well…”
He pointed to Barbados’s “great relations” with Trinidad at the bilateral and regional level and noted that the two countries’ “friendship is deep and solid enough to withstand any hiccups”.
Revealing that recent figures indicated Trinidadians made at least $70 million in direct investment in Barbados in 2011, Inniss told his audience that “if there was any doubt about your investment in Barbados, one only has to take a look at [the] hotel plant, shopping malls, recreational facilities, commercial banks, insurance companies, restaurants and real estate developments to see with the naked eye where your investment principally lies in my island”.
However, the minister proffered the view that one discerned an initial uneasiness and some distrust on the end of Barbadians with such investment, especially in areas previously reserved for the domain of Barbadians.
“My perspective on that as I have grown older and mellowed, is that when things were very good in Barbados we should have invested more into Trinidad and the Caribbean region. Secondly, we should have developed true partnerships with Trinidadian investors with a view of sustained expansion of joint businesses into the wider Caribbean and South America in particular. Thirdly, we need to accept your investment in our island, make maximum use of it and move on,” he said.
The industry minister disclosed that over the years Trinidad’s economy has benefitted tremendously from its exports to Barbados.
“In 2008 your exports to my island amounted to US$345 million, whilst imports from Barbados was approximately US$39 million; by 2013 your exports to Barbados had increased to US$464 million and imports from Barbados had inched up to a value of US$45 million. Most of your exports to Barbados are in the form of petroleum-based products,” he said.