Small Island Exports Blocked By Absurd Trade Barriers Says Barbados Minister.

File photo. Barbados exports a number of products, but the largest export sector appears to be rum.
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Barbados and other small island developing states continue to be hindered by trade barriers, which stop them from exporting products in a timely manner.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Sandra Husbands, stated this as she addressed the opening of the Wharton University of Pennsylvania’s 2024 Barbados Global Immersion Program.

Ms. Husbands highlighted some of the issues that Barbados and other countries in the region are facing with their trading products and noted that some larger countries use their laws to hinder trade from small island developing states.

“Where actions are taken by the importing state to erect trade barriers to prevent entry of … diseases, one can say the country is well justified. However, where such measures are used as a barrier to trade, this cannot be condoned,” she said.

Ms. Husband also noted that the significant barriers in Barbados’ trade endeavours, ranged from technical constraints to challenges with sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

Phytosanitary measures are methods of preventing the spread of plant diseases. World Trade Agreement rules say that such rules should not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between countries where identical or similar conditions prevail.

While recounting the hurdles experienced by Barbadian exporters, the former Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Trade gave an example of how barriers to trade can affect small businesses.

She said: “The product was an award-winning product, and when it sought to export into a developed country, when its goods got to the border, it was turned back because the font size on the bottle wasn’t right. … They changed it [and] when they sent the goods again, ‘oh, there is another problem. This other thing over here on the bottle is not right”. They were turned down three times.

“Now, I can tell you that a small company in Barbados cannot afford to make product, and have it turned down three times, that takes you close to a year to get your product into a market, it will kill it.”

Ms. Husbands continued. “We are trade dependent. We are also foreign exchange dependent because we cannot generate sufficient because of having to import; we need to earn the foreign exchange to buy goods and services from other places. So, those sensitivities are the ones that impact how you go about your trade policy.”

The Minister noted that, in addition to trade challenges, Barbados has to confront the looming threat of climate change, which poses a grave threat to the agricultural sector. She added that extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, could wreak havoc on crops, jeopardising food security and export revenues.

Sources include Barbados GIS Press Release.
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