Barbados has gained almost $300 million from certified exports between January and November this year, despite the disruptions to trade caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
And although this is below the 2019 tally of $333 million, Minister of International Business and Industry, Ronald Toppin, believes that the 2020 achievement is “worthy”, given the circumstances.
He made the disclosure during the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation’s (BIDC) Annual Awards Ceremony & Charity Drive held at Bagnall’s Point Gallery last Friday.
Lauding the agency’s frontline workers, Minister Toppin said: “To the BIDC’s Certification Officers, who ensured that export documents were certified during the many weeks of national lockdown, we recognise your effort. That is an achievement; to keep the export process going under such circumstances is noteworthy.”
The Industry Minister also praised the efforts of exporters and pledged to continue supporting them in the new year.
He remarked that the global pandemic “shook every pillar of economic activity in Barbados” and pointed out that manufacturers faced disruptions to their supply chains along with contractions to their output and sales. Mr. Toppin insisted that in spite of the crippling consequences, 2020 would not be a wasted year.
“Now, more than ever, it means that we must see the world as our marketplace. Though our path to achieving exports of $1 billion dollars may have been hedged in by COVID-19, it is still our destination for the medium to long term. With several markets still going through period of lockdowns, this is a big ask of our exporters – to double or even triple their exports.”
Noting that things would have to be done differently, he recommended finding new niche markets; forging new business connections in unfamiliar locations; tapping into the diaspora like never before; and turning every crisis into an opportunity.
“It will call for an extraordinary effort from Team Barbados, but grit and sacrifice is not new to us. I am determined that 2020 will not be a wasted year, but a year when we saw the difficult things that have kept us back, as stepping stones for 2021. Whether it is capacity constraints, routes to markets, language barriers, access to finance, we are actively constructing solutions,” Minister Toppin emphasised.
Also speaking at the awards ceremony was BIDC’s legal officer, Monica Mason-Crichlow. She noted that although 2020 had brought numerous challenges and changes, the “excellent service of Team BIDC” remained constant.
“We have learnt to become resilient. We retooled and refocused our efforts in the way we deliver our services to not only our clients, but to our sister governmental agencies,” she observed.