Barbados: Report on international business sector by year-end

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Ministry of International Business and Industry, Ronald Toppin

By Shamkoe Pile

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) — A comprehensive report on the current state of the island’s international business sector, along with recommendations on the way forward, is expected to be completed in December.

Minister of international business and industry, Ronald Toppin, made the announcement in his featured address during the Global Business Week’s virtual media launch, hosted by the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA).

He indicated that the report would be produced by the recently established Global Business Review Task Force, which was created to address the potential impact of the “Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) two-pillar package on taxation in the digital economy”.

The international business minister pointed out that a similar team of public and private sector officers were engaged when the island needed to comply with Action 5 of the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) programme on Countering Harmful Tax Practices. Back then, 13 pieces of legislation were repealed and changed.

“My ministry has assembled a dedicated team of personnel to respond, not only specifically to Action 1 of the BEPS initiative on the digitalisation of the economy but, more importantly, to assess the present viability of the international business and financial services sector and make recommendations related to both the preservation and reconstruction of the same,” he said.

He noted that the Global Business Review Task Force, which was formed in August, participated in a stakeholder meeting last week with government officials, BIBA, Invest Barbados and representatives from the international business sector.

“There was robust discussion in particular on those existing areas where improvements were required, and suggestions were proffered with regard to potential lines of business, which to date had not been fully exploited and in which Barbados could most certainly have a competitive advantage. It was reiterated, time and time again, that Barbados needed to be strategic and target a few niche areas in which to excel. Fintech, Intellectual Property, and the creation of research parks were but a few of these areas that were named.

“The Global Business Review Task Force’s mandate will come to an end in December this year, at which time a comprehensive report will be presented to me. At that time, I will share with you plans for execution and I promise you that the recommendations coming out of this Task Force, once approved by the Government of Barbados, will be effectively implemented,” minister Toppin assured.

Also speaking at the media launch was president of BIBA, Derrick Cummins. He emphasised that operators within the international business sector were pressing ahead with business despite facing challenges, such as COVID-19. He stressed that the Global Business Week would be used to look for opportunities.

“It is the ability of the global business sector to help stabilise Barbados, even in the direst of times, that prompts us to celebrate the social and economic contributions through hosting this annual week of activities in collaboration with our strategic partners. The scope of the week this year will capture new opportunities in regional trade to and from Barbados, new opportunities in global trade, new employment opportunities for skilled persons, and a further exploration of thought leadership covering a multiplicity of engaging topics under the theme: Adapt. Evolve. Execute. Lead the Change.

“The success of Business Week over the past years has confirmed this event as an important public awareness and public relations one. As Barbados strengthens its position as a global business hub, we will continue focusing national attention on the nature, importance, and contribution of the global business sector,” Cummins said.

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