History was made on Friday July 30, 2021, as a Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was formally signed by Mr. Anthony Branker, President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI), Mr. Timothy Tucker, President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Mr. Bryan Renten, Chairman of the Suriname Trade & Industry Association, at a virtual ceremony. The MOU is the culmination of months of consultations and seeks to promote cooperation between the three Chambers of Commerce. The MOU will also serve to enhance opportunities for trade and investment between the three countries.
During his opening remarks prior to the signing of the MoU, BCCI President, Mr. Branker, expressed his delight and detailed the steps that led to the historic occasion. “Following initial consultations late in 2020, the three Chambers shared trading profiles for their respective countries. After a subsequent meeting held on February 24, 2021, which included representatives of the Barbados Government, the parties agreed to form a Tripartite Sub-committee to examine ways of improving transportation between the countries. Discussions at the Sub-committee level influenced the BCCI’s decision to host a Virtual Trade Forum, on July 9, 2021. This event was held to gather critical information from local exporters on transportation, capacity challenges and other impediments to trading with Suriname and Guyana, and to identify potential opportunities to increase trade exports with these two countries.”
The BCCI President further stated, “It is in this vein that the Tripartite Group agreed to sign an MOU. The Barbados Chamber is pleased to formalise relations with the GCCI and the STIA, with the view of providing benefits to the members of each association as well as to increase information sharing, collaboration, and dialogue to promote sustainable development, trade, and investment in the region.”
Following opening remarks given by each Chamber’s signatory, special remarks were given by The Honourable Sandra Husbands, Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Barbados who stated, “We are making progress in our endeavours to be able to broaden our trade prospects. All the work that the chambers have done to deepen trade, sought to remove barriers. It is bearing fruit and results come at a critical time. Our global economy is currently undergoing a major revolution resulting in an escalation of prices on goods, including agricultural products. We all have to ensure that food security rests on a sustainable and equitable footing.” Minister Husbands also stated “There is a wide slate of opportunity for more trade engagement. Currently of the 22 billion dollars’ worth of imports from extra regional sources, 3 billion are for products produced in this region. This MOU provides us with the opportunity to start to buy more from each other. To actively work together, that we can grow our enterprises and that we can build capacity for trade.”
Also delivering remarks were Ms. Bevon McDonald, Director of Foreign Trade (Ag.) on behalf of the Honourable Hugh Hilton Todd, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Republic of Guyana, and His Excellency Albert Ramdin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation, Republic of Suriname.
Other dignitaries in attendance to witness the signing of the Tripartite MOU were Senator Alphea Wiggins, Special Envoy to the Republic of Suriname and Her Excellency Aneesha Allie, Consul General of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana. They were joined by representatives from each Chamber of Commerce, including BCCI Executive Director Mrs. Misha Lobban and Mr. Lalu Vaswani, Chair of the BCCI’s Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee and Chair of the Tripartite Sub-committee.