Kaye-Anne Greenidge, CEO of Invest Barbados, explains why companies and investors are choosing to capitalize on Barbados’ business-friendly environment, strong human capital, high-quality infrastructure, investment protection and good quality of life.
Bridges: Following the pandemic, people and capital are starting to move. How stable is the diversified Barbados economy today and as we look at the year ahead?
Brathwaite: “The Central Bank of Barbados is optimistic that a robust economic recovery will be experienced in 2022, after recording growth of 1.4% in 2021. Barbados’ economic freedom score was measured at 71.3, making its economy the 28th freest in the 2022 Index of Economic Freedom, and 1st in the Caribbean. Additionally, Barbados’ credit rating remained stable even during the pandemic.”
“In diversifying Barbados’ economy away from tourism, our mainstay sector, the country’s global business and financial services sector has played a pivotal role in Barbados’ economic success. Even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Barbados was one of the only three Caribbean islands to experience increased foreign direct investment inflows of 22% (US$262 million) during 2020, at a time when the pandemic had its most devastating impact on economies globally.”
“Barbados has also continued to build upon its educational focus on the sciences, including computer, fintech and life sciences, to attract additional business to the jurisdiction. Furthermore, Barbados is highly regarded as a global business jurisdiction within the Caribbean and among the world’s top 10 captive insurance domiciles.”
“Apart from the global business and financial services sector, Barbados continues to promote its productive services globally. These include sectors such as wealth management, information communication and technology, renewable energy, agri-business, global education, medical tourism, research and development and niche manufacturing, among others.”
Barbados offers investors a high-quality of life, a business-friendly environment and economic stability. What other factors make Barbados a preferred investment destination?
“Having recognized the importance of green policy initiatives for protecting our environment, more recently, one of the core areas of focus for Barbados has been to increasingly prioritize sustainable living and facilitate impact/ green investments. Barbados has set and is making good progress towards achieving the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals including promoting the use of clean energy. As such, Barbados has set as a target, achieving the goal of 100 percent renewable energy generation by 2030.”
“Central to our value proposition, is our expanding treaty network, which currently stands at 40 Double Taxation Agreements in force, with several others at various stages of negotiation. We also have nine Bilateral Investment Treaties and five Tax Information Exchange Agreements in force. These treaties have allowed us to expand our promotional footprint from North America to Latin America, Europe and China, along with Africa and the Middle East. We have recently established missions in the United Arab Emirates, Ghana and Kenya.”
“To ensure connectivity, Barbados has a modern telecommunication infrastructure, which features a robust fibre optic system and up-to-date 4G digital technology. The country was ranked 10th in the Americas relative to Fixed Broadband speed according to the Speedtest Global Index for April 2022.”
“The jurisdiction has accelerated its drive towards digitization with the firm objective of increasing digital access and payments across the spectra of services. Barbados has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Estonia, one of the European Union’s leaders in digitization to assist as the country seeks to leapfrog advancement in certain processes.”
“Barbados is ranked as ‘developed’ by the UN’s Human Development Index. That Index combines a number of dimensions including life expectancy, literacy, educational attainment and GDP per capita for countries worldwide and demonstrates the relationship between economic freedom and positive social and economic values. It is an achievement and an honor.”
“Barbados’ educational system is renowned globally and has produced a talented workforce, including a pool of lawyers, accountants, tax advisors and other service providers who support the thriving global business sector. With a literacy rate of 99.6% that ranks among the highest in the world, Barbados has seen the value of investing in the education of its citizens.”
As an economic development agency, what role do you play in ensuring Barbados offers investors a ‘Welcoming Investment Climate’? (Services and support)
“The Invest Barbados team facilitates the client’s process from initial query to complete setup and business expansion, ensuring that the journey is as seamless as possible.”
Invest Barbados’ specific services include:
- Promoting and landing foreign direct investment
- Providing relevant, timely, current, quality information to investors
- Helping to make the Barbados business environment conducive to foreign direct investment
- Developing new investment products
- Collaborating with stakeholders to manage the Barbados international business brand
“The agency’s personalized services also include client support, in which Invest Barbados acts as the continuous liaison between the investor and government agencies. Aftercare client services also focus on encouraging mandate expansion, where Invest Barbados’ officers encourage and provide assistance for the expansion and growth of operations in Barbados. Our agency also facilitates continued contact with relevant government entities to advocate for legislative changes in collaboration with stakeholders, as required.”
While tourism, services and finance drive economic growth in Barbados, what new businesses / industries do you expect to see contribute to the economy in 2022/2033?
“Renewable energy is one of Barbados’ fast-developing sectors, which has come into focus within recent times. Climate change and its associated environmental impact, continue to be a cause for concern globally, largely due to the heavy reliance on fossil fuels. As such, the Barbados Government has placed great emphasis on reducing its reliance on fossil fuels, setting 2030 as the year when the country will generate 100 percent of its energy from alternative/renewable energy sources. Currently, approximately 160 megawatts (MW) are used throughout the island at peak demand periods. According to Barbados’ Energy Division, the goal is to achieve 600 MW of renewable energy by 2030.”
“Medicinal cannabis is a rapidly expanding sector across the globe, as there is a growing body of research that indicates the plant can be used to successfully treat many ailments. Barbados has added investment opportunities in the medicinal cannabis industry to its suite of investment opportunities. The Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Act, 2019 was passed in November 27, 2019.”
“Barbados is already a regional leader in blockchain technology within the Caribbean, after the success of the first blockchain start-up in the region – Bitt.com. The opportunity is ripe as the country has attracted the attention of investors from around the globe, who are interested in pursuing business ventures in this sector.”
“Barbados’ warm and welcoming environment, modern physical infrastructure, world class fibre optic telecommunications network, as well as international air connectivity provides an ideal mix for global education institutions looking to locate in an English-speaking jurisdiction. The country has and is expected to receive interest from prospective institutions seeking a location to house their facilities.”
“Barbados is seeking to expand its biotechnology sector, having already successfully attracted long-term business in this niche area. The jurisdiction comprises a cadre of university graduates with biology and bio-chemistry based degrees and skill sets. In addition to this highly educated workforce that is specific to the sector, is the attractiveness of competitive labor costs which give Barbados a distinct advantage when compared to North America and Western Europe as it relates to life science investments.”
Barbados is an island country with beaches, gardens and crystal-clear waters. What message do you have for our international audience on the future economic outlook for beautiful Barbados and why should they keep Barbados in mind?
“Barbados’ economic outlook is positive. The island continues to establish itself as a preferred location for global business and has an expanding roster of global businesses. Our vibrant landscape offers several investment opportunities.”
“Bolstered by a very strong reserve buffer and a stable and liquid financial system to support the country’s economic recovery, Barbados is poised for additional growth. The jurisdiction is committed to providing a welcoming environment based on the tenets of stability, consistency and accountability for investors wishing to conduct sound, reputable and sustainable business on our shores. Barbados is and will continue to be a compliant, transparent and well-regulated domicile.”
“Invest Barbados stands ready to assist investors who wish to establish businesses of substance in Barbados. The Invest Barbados team invites you to join us on a transformative journey towards enhanced global competitiveness and prosperity, where a warm and welcoming investment climate awaits!”
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