Britain keen on trade
RECIPROCAL TRADE, driven by export into Europe, will surely lift Barbados and Caribbean economies out of stagnation.
This is the view of Britain’s parliamentary under secretary of state in the foreign and Commonwealth office, Henry Bellingham, who says Caribbean nations must move swiftly to exploit the billions of pounds sterling expected from the London 2012 Olympics.
On Wednesday, at the second CARIFORUM-EU Business Forum at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London, he said, “The Games are expected to generate about £21 billion (BDS$64 billion) for the [British] economy, where there are £1 billion (BDS$3.05 billion) in deals and projects expected to be announced this summer alone. We want the Caribbean to be part of this and to maximize the benefits to the region itself.”
Bellingham pointed to this enormous business opportunity during his presentation Taking Advantage Of Investment Opportunities Within The Caribbean And Europe at the forum hosted by the Caribbean Export Development Agency.
“Britain is the gateway to Europe. If there is more we can do with our Caribbean partners, it is really to drive home that vital point,” the politician stressed.
In addition, he noted that in 2011 Britain’s bilateral trade with the Caribbean exceeded £800 million (BDS$2.4 billion), which represented £379 million in British imports and £446 million in British exports, and the British government had a target to double bilateral trade between Britain and the Caribbean by 2015.
The Westminster member of parliament said the Caribbean’s reliance on imports alone, particularly through tourism, and Britain’s on exports, would stagnate bilateral trade.
“We want Caribbean imports into [Britain]. We want companies like Grace Kennedy, which employs over 200 people in manufacturing and distribution in London and north Wales, to expand and set an example to other companies,” Bellingham said.
The Caribbean has many assets that ought to enable the region to grow more rapidly, he said, but acknowledged that further structural reforms, such as tariff reductions, more robust competition policy, and product and labour market reforms were needed to facilitate rapid growth.
“It is for this reason that the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement is welcome. This EPA offers a great opportunity for the region to become more competitive and more integrated economically.
“We want to see the EPA deliver real benefits to the region.”