Representatives of 21 firms from Scotland and the wider United Kingdom were recently in Barbados to explore potential business and investment opportunities. Representing various sectors, the delegates attended the 2023 Scottish Trade Mission to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, an initiative which offers opportunities for networking, business development, and mutual prosperity between the countries.
Minister of State in Foreign Trade and Business Development, the Honourable Sandra Husbands, spoke during the opening session in The Town Hall at The Crane Resort, St. Philip; she emphasised that transparency and substance are two important values for Barbados, which makes the island a secure and reliable jurisdiction for investments, where their businesses would be well-protected.
Minister Husbands highlighted a competitive landscape, a stable economy and a business-friendly environment as some of the reasons businesses find Barbados attractive. She advised that even as Barbados introduces new tax reform initiatives from January 1, 2024, businesses can rest assured that Barbados will remain competitive as it seeks to preserve its reputation as a reliable global financial centre for investment.
“At the macro level, the Barbados government has remained steadfast in its drive to enhance the business climate primarily through digitisation across the public sector and the streamlining of processes for local and overseas entities seeking to conduct business here. We are currently working on an electronic single window to execute business. We hope to have that completed very soon so that we will be able to offer you the best business climate so that you can quickly transact your business; you can quickly get responses and, therefore, be able to be nimble in establishing yourself and working from Barbados.”
During the event, the High Commissioner of Barbados to the UK, Milton Inniss, encouraged attendees, some of whom had visited on previous missions, to explore the various opportunities for sustainable trade and investment between Barbados and the UK. His UK counterpart, the High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Scott Furssedonn-Wood, stated that Barbados and the Caribbean are open for business and offer significant opportunities for British companies.
“Being here, you'll be able to not just take a look at those opportunities for yourself, you’ll be able to establish the partnerships, build the relationships which will position you perfectly to fully seize those opportunities,” High Commissioner Furssedonn-Wood stated.
Deputy High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Charley Williams, shared similar sentiments, stating that this year's mission aims to build upon previous successful partnerships. She highlighted one such example where a participating firm from a previous trade mission partnered with the Barbados Archives Department to assist in safeguarding and digitising historical records dating back to the 1600s.
Ms. Williams also highlighted the growing trade between the UK and Barbados. She shared data from the UK's Office of National Statistics for the four quarters from Q2 2023, which indicated a 43 per cent increase in total trade between the two countries and an 83 per cent increase in UK exports to Barbados when compared to the same period in 2022. She expressed “That is indicative of a healthy trend upward and a healthy rebound for the UK trade from COVID-19. There is, however, still plenty of opportunity for us to do more and to grow this through creative solutions and greater diversification.”
During her remarks, Kaye-Anne Greenidge, Chief Executive Officer of Invest Barbados, highlighted the various competitive advantages that Barbados offers to businesses looking to set up operations on the island. She said that these include easy access to global markets, a stable economy, a highly skilled workforce, and excellent infrastructure, adding, “It is a very competitive landscape in Barbados. We have flights from Barbados every day to the UK and the United States, and we have also been engaging the African market. What we are saying is that no place is far when you are located in Barbados, and it is possible to get everywhere in the world.”
Meanwhile, Jo Smith, founder and coordinator of the Renfrewshire Business Network, expressed hope for another successful outcome from the trade mission. She mentioned the network's strength in its 1400 members, which provides plenty of avenues for creating solid business connections.
The Renfrewshire Business Network, the British High Commission, the Department for Business and Trade, and Invest Barbados have collaborated to host the three-day mission, which commenced on November 21. The trade and investment mission was the fourth of its kind to Barbados.