This week a group of trade delegates from Scotland met with Barbados Trade and Investment officials to discuss ways of increasing trade between Barbados and the most northerly part of the United Kingdom.
Scotland is best known for its exports of Scotch Whisky, but it has many other products.
The Scottish group brought together delegates from sectors including finance, education, training, hospitality and tourism. The mission aims to highlight the immense trading and investment opportunities available in Barbados, which is also seen as a potential gateway to markets in the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America.
Sandra Husbands, Minister of State in Foreign Trade and Business Development highlighted why Barbados is the ideal jurisdiction to explore trade and investment possibilities.
Some of those reasons included a competitive jurisdiction in terms of tax rates; good ICT infrastructures; stable political, economic and social environment; as well as a regulated and business-friendly environment.
Ms. Husbands pointed out that recently, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced tax reform initiatives that will take effect from January 1, 2024, and assured the delegates that Government is very willing to engage with stakeholders to ventilate any concerns or provide further clarification relative to the pending changes to Barbados’ corporate tax structure.
She added that Barbados will continue to work with current and prospective investors to create an environment of mutual benefit and prosperity.
“Barbados will remain very nimble; we’re going to be proactive and resilient, and we will be pivoting where necessary to remain competitive so that we can constantly offer you what is best across the globe at all costs.
“Our goal is to safeguard and preserve our long-standing reputation as a credible and combined global financial centre, where investors such as yourselves can unreservedly establish and expand your business operations and realise that desirable return on your investment, that is important,” Minister Husbands emphasised.
She expressed the hope that this mission, which includes business-to-business meetings over the next few days, would be “fruitful” and translate into new business ventures.
Also hoping for a positive outcome from the trade mission was Barbados’ High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), Milton Inniss; Deputy High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Charley Williams; and Founder and Coordinator of the Renfrewshire Business Network, Jo Smith.
Deputy High Commissioner Williams noted that this year’s mission seeks to build on the successes of previous years, through which, strategic partnerships were formed.
As a result, Barbados has received assistance with its digitisation project at the Archives Department; training of nurses at the Barbados Community College; and the soon-to-be-operational medical device manufacturer, CaribSmile Dental Lab.
Ms. Williams reported that according to data from the UK’s Office of National Statistics, total UK exports to Barbados accounted for £204 million and total UK imports from Barbados, £450 million.
The Trade Mission was organised by the Renfrewshire Business Network, the British High Commission, the Department for Business and Trade, and Invest Barbados.
Renewables, education, cybersecurity, biotechnology, niche manufacturing, hospitality, ICT and the circular economy are some of the areas proposed for cooperation.
Jo Smith of the Renfrewshire Business Network added that: “Renfrewshire Business Network (RBN) was established in 2012 to encourage businesses to connect and grow, so the Trade Mission is an ideal fit with this ethos. Scotland has many links with Barbados, such as the barrels in the Mount Gay distillery coming from Islay; a shared patron saint in St Andrew, and their beautiful Scotland District.
One such business leader is Robin Prior, Managing Director of Abergower.
The company, which has offices across the UK including Edinburgh and Glasgow, offers a range of professional document scanning, document digitisation services and digital filing services.
Robin said: “Abergower is constantly innovating. We began as a business that offered complex digitisation of any documents, working with organisations ranging from government departments to private companies. By completing the trade mission last year, we were able to see that Barbados could take full advantage of considerable expertise we have in converting paper-based documents to searchable digital content.
Kenny Dooley, Director of OGV Taprooms, said: “In addition to our bar in Aberdeen, we currently operate a bar on the lovely island of Barbados at El Sueño. The local market has proven a fantastic opportunity, and it is clear that there is much affection for Scotland from Bajans. We have been inspired to such an extent that over the next few years our goal is to expand into five new locations across the Caribbean, with Barbados very much acting as the gateway to achieving this.
Sources: Barbados GIS, BusinessScotlandMagazine.