The latest budgetary measures by the Canadian Federal Government compel Barbados to be more agile and responsive than at any other time in the history of its international business sector.

This came from president of the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA), Ryle Weekes, as he opened the association’s February luncheon seminar at the Barbados Hilton on Tuesday, February 25.

The raft of new measures set to take effect from January 1, 2015, will provide less favourable tax treatment in Canada for income generated by several Canadian banking and insurance subsidiaries resident in Barbados. It will also impact on the niche area of trusts that has been one of the island’s growth areas.

Weekes noted that with Canadian companies accounting for approximately 80 per cent of all the international business conducted in Barbados, the island would feel the economic impact more so than other Canadian treaty partners. He added that, given Barbados’s already perilous economic state, any new developments that have the potential to further undermine our growth must be swiftly assessed and responded to.

This sentiment was echoed by Minister of International Business Donville Inniss as he commented from the floor following the luncheon discussion. He said that any drop in international business numbers over the next 12 to 18 months could have a devastating impact on the island, citing the almost $900 million in foreign exchange that the sector injects into the economy each year through its taxes, fees, salaries, rents, hotel room rentals, and other operating expenses.

The Minister admitted that Barbados had concentrated too singularly on the Canadian market for too long and he revealed that he had made recommendations to Invest Barbados and its line Minister Darcy Boyce for the need to divert some of the agency’s resources into the growth area of Latin America, as well as emerging markets in Africa and Asia.

He also acknowledged that public service levels needed to be improved if Barbados was to retain the business already here and attract new companies; and he pledged improvements in the government agencies within his ministerial portfolio.