Services sector vital in rebuilding Caribbean economiesThursday, October 21, 2021
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the blacklisting from the European Union and the recent implementation of a 15 per cent corporate tax rate have signalled the need for a more diversified, resilient and robust services sector, if Caribbean economies are to build back and build back better.
Sandra Husbands, Barbados’ Minister of Foreign Trade, made this assertion during her address at the first virtual Services Go Global (SGG) certification ceremony on Wednesday evening.
“The services sector has become one of the most important economic activity drivers in our regional economy. The services sector in the Caribbean is crucial for providing strong economic growth and creating a source of jobs for Caribbean nationals. The statistics illustrate that the services sector contributes a range of 43 to 86 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) to the Caribbean economies. Our countries are therefore fully dependent on this service activity.
“As a result, our regional service strategy group comes to mind. I see this strategy asserting Barbados and the wider Caribbean region to diversify the services sector in the following areas: health and wellness services; professional services; renewable energy; ICT; education; culture and creative industries services and financial services,” Husbands stated.
She stressed that regional governments and the private sector must work together to diversify the services sector, and before the implementation of the above services, the strategy group would examine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to these services sectors.
Husbands congratulated all the agencies involved in providing the SGG training programme, including the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries (TTCSI) and the Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA). This, she declared, was CSME in action.
President of TTCSI, Mark Edghill, speaking on the SGG programme, explained: “It was developed to optimise the CARIFORUM region’s export of services by building the capacity of service providers to capitalise on opportunities under the Economic Partnership Agreement, Caricom Single Market and other existing third party trade agreements; as well as to establish a cadre of certified trainers for the SGG platform geared to assist small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) in the services sector.”
Edghill highlighted that as a result of the SGG training “we can now attest that the network of several Caribbean services coalition is truly a functioning network at this point and time”.