Barbados Foreign Trade Minister says, “National Development must be first”

BARBADOS – While Barbados remains committed to meeting its obligations to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the country will nonetheless retain the right to act in the best interest of its people, whenever and wherever these commitments conflict with national development priorities.

This was the message delivered by this country’s Foreign Trade Minister, Christopher Sinckler, as he initiated his defence of Barbados’ trade policies at the country’s second Trade Policy Review process before the WTO today.

Minister Sinckler argued that, while some might point to Barbados’ relatively high GDP per capita statistics, as an indication of the country’s prosperity and hence the need to open its markets more, this often resulted in mis-leading conclusions about what the country could afford to do. Pointing to the country’s high national debt, rising rate of inflation and growing external current account deficits, Mr. Sinckler maintained that Barbados was doing as much as it could in the current environment.

The Foreign Minister hastened to remind WTO members that the ongoing global economic crisis, characterised by high energy prices, a growing international financial sector meltdown, and overall weak global demand for goods and services, would further slow output in the country’s productive sectors, dampen economic growth and likely increase prospects for job losses.

Against this backdrop, Mr. Sinckler reiterated Barbados’ desire to “participate in a WTO that appreciates these real challenges and that creates the appropriate flexibilities to allow Barbados and other Small Vulnerable Economies to respond in a deliberate way to protect the most vulnerable sectors and groups” in its economy.

Barbados’ Trade Policy Review Process continues over the next two days when the Minister and his delegation are expected to field questions from WTO members on specific aspects of the country’s trade and economic policies.

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