Bajans spent millions on Guyanese products
… increased trade, transportation woes now in focus
There was an overwhelming interest in the locally-made products at the recently concluded agro-fest in Barbados and Head of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) Rafeek Khan said that there is now a revitalised interest in improving transportation between the two countries.
Khan told the News Room that there were more than 22,000 visitors at the Guyana pavilion at Barbados’ agricultural fest. And, he estimated that the patrons spent more than US $55,000 (or about GY $11.5 million) on Guyanese products.
What may have contributed to this high demand, he said, is the low cost of locally-made products.
“Barbados has been importing from extra-regional (markets), basic products that we have in our sectors in Guyana that we have available at a cheaper price,” the GMSA Head told the News Room.
Khan also said that the ‘on-the-ground’ interest experienced is helping to drive the demand for increased trade between the two countries.
That demand is also being facilitated through the St. Barnabas Accord, which was signed by President Dr. Irfaan Ali and Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley. This agreement seeks to create one domestic space between both countries in areas across multiple sectors.
With the evident interest in Guyanese products, Khan explained that private sector stakeholders and the two governments are attempting to reduce the high cost of transportation that may limit trade.
“For some reason, Barbados is right next to her [Trinidad and Tobago] but its freight is almost double the cost than Trinidad.
“Logistics is definitely one of the many non-tariff barriers that we want to deal with,” Khan explained.
Beyond Guyana and Barbados trade, Prime Minister Mottley has acknowledged that quick and low-cost transportation was needed to help increase agricultural production and trade across the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
As such, during a recent visit to Guyana, the Prime Minister reasoned that the forthcoming Guyana/ Barbados food terminal will be a critical mechanism that will enable the swifter transportation of food produced in the region.
Khan agreed that this terminal will aid efforts but also emphasised that local producers also need to focus on providing quality products. This is particularly crucial in Barbados, which has a very “sophisticated” local and tourist market.
Now that the agro-fest has concluded, the GMSA, in collaboration with other private sector stakeholders, will be engaging the Barbados private sector on establishing more concrete partnerships. This could see Guyanese products benefitting from fixed markets, Khan said.