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Barbados outlines projects to reduce island's imports

Friday, November 09, 2018

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — The Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) has announced plans to launch two new initiatives designed to reduce the island's imports in key areas, increase exports and create high value jobs.

The country's International Business and Industry Minister, Ronald Toppin, said that the first initiative will be a “New Product Development Programme”, which will facilitate the creation of new products or enhance existing products that have the potential to earn or save foreign exchange.

“The second of these programmes, titled Accelerate 20/20, is aimed at starting up and expanding 20 high-growth companies over the next year-and-a-half,” he said, adding that the programme will target companies that can “start up and scale up quickly” which have the potential to achieve annual export earnings of BDS$100,000 (US$50,000) in the medium to long-term.

Toppin, speaking at the third annual Innovate Barbados Conference, said that that several high-potential areas that could ignite the domestic economy and attract venture capital funding were identified.

He said these included renewable energy, climate resilient goods and services, health and wellness, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), cuisine and culture.
Toppin said there was an immediate need to build this country's future today by leveraging its unique characteristics and challenges and called on Barbadians to find ways to transform them into opportunities.

“We have leveraged our sun, sea and sand to make Barbados the number one in the world for visitor satisfaction (according to the 2017 Destination Satisfaction Index). Now we are called upon to leverage our sun, sea and this time, land in a different way – in solar, aquaculture, bio-tech, agro-processing and other areas.

“Barbados is a small island economy. We have no booming oil resources. We are located in the Caribbean, right in line to be affected by super storms and hurricanes. These challenges are our opportunities! Because of these challenges, we are ideally positioned to be innovators in renewable energy solutions that can benefit the world,” he said, adding that innovation in Barbados' maritime economy and agro economy could also deliver a needed economic boost.

“The benefits which could be derived in terms of new products are tremendous; from pharmaceuticals derived from algae or local flora, to new bio-fuels that could power our plants, homes and transportation modes of tomorrow,” Toppin said, urging participants to take advantage of the opportunities at Innovate Barbados and “to gather the knowledge, inspiration and connections that can help us win the race”.

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