“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,” Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Minister Donville Inniss, said.
Addressing the Trinidad and Tobago’s Chamber of Commerce at its first quarterly luncheon, Inniss pointed to the “great relations” between the two CARICOM countries adding “friendship is deep and solid enough to withstand any hiccups”.
He said that recent figures indicated Trinidad and Tobago investors made at least BDS$70 million (One BDS dollar = US$0.50 cents) in direct investment in Barbados in 2011.
“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”.
But he acknowledged that Barbadians had first spoken of their unease as Trinidad investors moved into the various sectors of the economy.
“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,” Inniss told the private sector group here.
He said that over the years the Trinidad and Tobago 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 told the members of the local business community.