THE ISSUE: Pluses despite the challenges
Is the viability of Barbados’ international business sector under threat?
People who work in the tourism industry have argued that it is one of the most resilient sectors. Its ability to survive various setbacks over the years is evidence of this.
Stakeholders in the international business and financial services sector share a similar view.
Both sectors are unquestionably vital to Barbados’ economic success, especially the earning of foreign exchange.
While the tourism industry is continuing its resurgence, the international business and financial services sector continues to be challenged on various fronts.
As a result, questions are being raised about its viability in face of increased competition and international regulations.
The challenges were highlighted by the Central Bank recently when it released its review for the nine-month period ended September 30.
“The economic foundations of Barbados’ international business and financial services sector remain strong, but the sector faces a challenge because of the sentiment against globalisation in advanced economies,” the bank said.
“Data up to July indicates that the number of licences granted to international business companies declined by 7.5 per cent.
“In addition, a total of $67 billion in assets were held by international banks in June 2016, representing a 16 per cent decrease over a 12-month period.”
Before this, at his organisation’s luncheon seminar held in late July, Barbados International Business Association president Gregory McConnie said a major stumbling block to the sector’s success was inadequate business facilitation.
He said this was “the most pressing issue to be addressed”.
“Barbados must demonstrate that it can meet the high standards of service expected by international business investors and practitioners, and that it can do so consistently if it is to continue to be perceived as a high quality jurisdiction,” McConnie added.
“As a nation celebrating 50 years of independence, we need to commit ourselves to making Barbados the easiest place for doing business in the world.”
Address BIBA’s recent International Business Week conference, Minister of International Business Donville Inniss said despite challenges, the sector still had more positives than negatives.
“There is no doubt, that this sector has a multiplier effect, as it touches so many other areas of economic activity across Barbados, including real estate, professional services such as accounting, legal and tax; hospitality; construction; information and communication technology; and even education, industries in which many average Barbadians are employed,” Inniss said.