Speaking during a tour of Barbados 1965 Industries, Wildey, St. Michael yesterday, Minister Kellman said that “this widespread problem”, which impacts the employment of Barbadians and foreign exchange, is currently being monitored.
“We have nothing against the Chinese but we think that it is unfair for us to be producing and paying the cost where some people can pretend that they are producing, going next door, buying the goods and claiming to be goods from CARICOM, only to realise that they are coming from outside of CARICOM and paying the same rates as if they are from CARICOM,” said Minister Kellman.
According to him, the kind of unfair advantage will not work. He said that the Ministry will do everything in its power to ensure that the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association continues to monitor and deal with the issue.
“Every time we allow a shipment of that, what we are doing, we are stopping Barbadians and people from CARICOM from getting work and we cannot do that. We have to protect CARICOM and Barbados,” he stressed.
He stated that Barbados must find a way to get back first to import substitution and then use that as “a base so that we can deal with comparative advantage, but we cannot do it if we allow people to shortchange the system.”
Minister Kellman said that the problem is widespread and just last week he had to highlight a particular case.
According to him, this situation is causing Barbados to lose a lot of foreign exchange.
Speaking about a course of action, he said, “We would have to speak to those agencies to ensure that it does not occur, whether they operate from the seaport, the airport, or whether the Coast Guard must be used.”
“The warning to all of them is that we are waiting and looking. So all those who believe that they have been beating the system, we want them to know that we are aware of what they are doing and we are looking,” said the Industry Minister.
He said that Government will provide the incentives needed for manufacturers and stressed that there is no need for them to continue this “purpose work”.
Managing Director of Barbados 1965 Industries, Dean Straker, said that action against practice has been needed for some time. He said in general there are companies in Barbados that will import from Trinidad; Trinidad imports from China and companies here pay a lower duty than importing from China directly.
“They come into Trinidad and they take off the labels saying made in China and put on made in Trinidad,” he charged.
Straker said that he is hopeful that the manufacturing sector gets support from the various agencies, including the Customs Department.
Minister Kellman added that efforts will be ongoing to improve the image of the clothing industry due to the impression created that “you cannot get any work in this industry… the impression created this is not a place where people want to work. I want to say that is not correct.”
He also stated that talks will occur with the Ministry Energy for a renewable energy project to help these industries reduce costs and be able to compete.
The Minister, Permanent Secretary Ruth Blackman, ministry representatives, and officials of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association also toured the new Banks Brewery plant at Newton, Christ Church and the Sun Power Hotwater Systems plant at Searles Plantation, Christ Church yesterday.