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From The Archives: ‘Scope’ for furniture

Carmel Haynes

From The Archives: ‘Scope’ for furniture

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WOODEN FURNITURE PRODUCTION in Barbados has declined by almost 91 per cent over the past two decades, but the sector still has the potential to contribute millions to this country’s economic growth.

According to a recent study commissioned by the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, the potential output for the sector could be as high as $43.8 million – about one per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

This was revealed last Wednesday morning when the findings of the study were revealed to local manufacturers by co-author Dr Paul Pounder, a Department of Management Studies lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill.

In the study, Pounder and fellow researcher Jonathan Lashley said the sector has been operating at only 31.5 per cent of its capacity, leading to current output of about $13.8 million, or about 0.3 per cent of GDP.

However, they noted that domestic demand appeared strong and output could be more than trebled if a 24-hour work day was implemented, which could facilitate two eight-hour works shifts.

Respondents were also optimistic they would see increased sales, profits and personnel over the next two years.

On the other hand, the sector’s foreign exchange earning potential appears less robust.

The sector has exported an average of $711 255 worth of goods per year over the last five years, with 2005 showing results of $255 000 in contrast to $26.5 million in imports.

This marked a 20 per cent decline on export earnings for 2003.

Of the 22 furniture manufacturers surveyed, only 11 were exporters, and of those, only three exported frequently.

The authors cited port and freight charges and non-tariff barriers to trade as major export hurdles.