Certified exports were valued at US$41.9 million over the period January 1 to March 25, 2022, increasing by 16.6% compared to the previous year. This is the highest level attained since the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the second-highest level for the comparative period since 2016. CEO of Export Barbados (BIDC), Mark Hill, is confident that this double-digit growth will not only persist over the next twelve months but will even reach triple-digit growth as the Corporation spearheads the launch and deployment of several new initiatives over the coming months.
Since April 2021, Exports Barbados (BIDC) has undergone a process of realignment geared at slowing down declining exports to bring the country onto a positive growth trend. “The adoption of an export focus by the Corporation was essential if it was to guide our exporters towards achieving Government’s aim of earning and saving foreign exchange, particularly through the export of Barbadian goods and services,” says CEO Hill.
Certified exports fell by 3.6% for the first three months of 2021, recovered in April – June where growth of 1.2% was recorded but struggled in July – September when they fell by 4.2%. However, the impact of new realignment initiatives began to bear fruit in the final quarter of the year, leading to growth in certified exports of 11.4% for October – December and 1% overall for 2021. The performance of certified exports for the first quarter of 2022 highlights the second consecutive quarter of growth and, according to CEO Hill, is “the start of a consistent growth trend.”
CEO Hill also noted the exceptional performance of small businesses for January to March 2022. He highlighted that companies in Tier 5 of the newly introduced five tier system achieved growth of 293% compared to the corresponding period of 2021, outstripping the performance of the companies in the other four tiers. Tier 5, the CEO explained, are those companies which recorded no more than US$150,000 in certified exports in 2020. The growth in the small business sector is also significant since this group currently use more foreign exchange than they earn which contributes to a strain on the country’s foreign reserves, therefore building and sustaining an export culture is critical to economic growth.
The main drivers for this improvement were mining/concrete aggregate and soft drinks, neither of which exported in the base year 2020. Exports from mining were valued at US$0.5 million in 2022, its first year of export. On the other hand, soft drinks recorded exports of US$0.4 million, growing by more than 6300% compared to its value in the previous year. Other strong movers were printing, apparel, condiments (pepper sauce etc.) sugar, rum, rum products, and confectionery.
The CEO expects that this performance will improve as the Corporation launches the International Food Science Centre and the Export Bank in upcoming months which are projects that are being fueled by the Barbados/Guyana St. Barnabas Accord.
The International Food Science Centre is set to expand the production capacity of small businesses by giving them access to an internationally accredited facility equipped with the testing laboratories needed to satisfy the most stringent international standards. In addition, the Export Bank will provide financial solutions to some of the perennial issues facing exporters.
The stage is set to support local businesses of all sizes. The corporation is dedicated to continuing its work to achieve double and triple-digit growth.