The 2020 Barbados Virtual Trade Mission offered Scottish companies the opportunity to do business in the country as well as using Barbados as a base to expand and explore markets in the Caribbean Region including The Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago.
The first-ever virtual trade mission between Barbados and Scotland was launched on the 25th - 27th November and was delivered by Renfrewshire Business Network through a partnership with Barbados House Ltd, with support being provided by KURO Consulting Services.
The Trade Mission facilitated country and region-specific business opportunities, with access to prearranged one-on-one meetings with various government departments, in country support networks and sector companies that could offer the opportunity to do business with.
Supporting the trade links and providing a welcome address will be Ivan McKee - Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation at the Scottish Government and The Hon. Ronald Toppin - Minister of International Business and Industry, Barbados Government at the Barbados Government.
A range of organisations engaged throughout the process and supported with the mission including Invest Barbados, UK Department for International Trade (Barbados), Barbados Investment & Development Corporation (BIDC) and the Barbados Chamber of Commerce.
Jo Smith, Co-organiser of the trade mission said: “The idea of a Trade Mission began after a discussion between myself and Shane at a Renfrewshire Business Network meeting in 2018. The conversation was around how I had always wanted to export my training courses with Shane mentioning if I had ever thought of Barbados as an option. We then discussed the potential of doing business in Barbados and the wider Caribbean. Areas included the natural synergy between Barbados and Scotland, a shared culture of being welcoming and friendly, and the opportunities to support local areas of development in many sectors including Renewable energy, Maritime, Health and Safety, Hospitality, Environmental, Education and Shipping. We felt that it may be of interest to other businesses and set out to explore the potential for a trade mission.”
Shane Thomas, Co-organiser of the trade mission said: “After our initial discussions what followed was a connection with Invest Barbados, who very quickly started to put plans in place to ensure the Trade Mission was a success. From this we have been able to bring on board additional partners and delegates making use of our extensive networks by promoting the idea of opportunity to people who were interested in being part of or supporting the first ever Mission from Scotland to Barbados.”
Originally the Trade Mission was all set to go ahead in May and was then rescheduled to November 2020, however, with the global pandemic resulting in further travel restrictions and quarantine for entry into country it would have heavily impacted on the time available for face-to-face meetings.
The uneasiness regarding the pandemic has not gone away and with health and safety being paramount the team have pivoted to an alternative approach by using a virtual trade mission format which will offer the same opportunities as there would have been in person.
Not ones to let an opportunity go, Shane and Jo are planning to re-schedule another trade Mission in Spring 2021.
Kaye-Anne Brathwaite, CEO at Invest Barbados said: “As the world moved to manage the global pandemic currently upon us, it is important to note that Barbados didn’t close its borders. Indeed, we have been thanked and awarded for facilitating cruise ships without ports to berth and for being a hub to others making their way home. Similarly, we remain ‘open for business’ as a safe and stable, mature jurisdiction and it is with great anticipation that we extend an invitation to those based in Scotland to explore the myriad of traditional and emerging opportunities to be found here. Ours is a welcoming investment climate – and our landscape is vibrant and brimming with possibilities. It is my hope that this series provides an insight into what we have to offer – the Invest Barbados team is available to be your guide!”
Scotland’s Minister of Trade, Investment and Innovation, Ivan McKee, said “The event is held at the same time as we celebrate St. Andrew’s Day, Scotland’s official founding anniversary, which is November 30th, coinciding with the anniversary of Barbados’ independence. Scotland and Barbados share many years of historical and cultural relationships, and we are pleased that these relationships are maintained and strengthened in the very difficult world we face today.”
In conjunction with the Trade mission an official Barbados Tartan was launched by Robert Howarth Guibal of Blackisle Pewter Co. Ltd with the design being approved by The Scottish Register of Tartans for the "Island of Barbados" tartan which was created to link the historical and modern cultures of Scotland and the Island of Barbados.
Mrs. Janet Douglas, CMG, British High Commissioner to Barbados & Eastern Caribbean said: “This trade mission provides a great opportunity to enhance bilateral trade and collaboration between the UK and Barbados at a time when the UK is growing and diversifying its global trading relationships. I’m delighted that, despite the challenges created by the COVID pandemic, business partners in Scotland and Barbados can establish and develop links virtually, discussing potential areas of business collaboration in a green and safe manner.”