Business Barbados

Measuring just 21 miles by 14 miles, the island nation of Barbados is by any standards a mere speck on the globe. Yet this miniature country, no bigger than a small town, is currently preparing itself to ‘Engage the World’, with the intention of establishing itself as a significant player within the new world order of the globalized economy. Given the disproportionate nature of the size of the country and its elevated level of ambition, it would be quite natural for any non-Barbadian to ask the question … How can Barbados generate so much self belief? The reality is that Barbados enjoys a long and proud history of being resolute and confident enough to follow its own course of action and to strongly adhere to its principles, often standing alone to face up to a much bigger and seemingly much more powerful adversary.

As early as 1651, just 24 years after settlement, Barbados stood up to the might of the English Parliament, refusing to accept terms and conditions laid down by Oliver Cromwell’s Government. Even after a Royal Navy fleet was despatched to forcibly reclaim Barbados, the island’s Governor, Lord Willoughby, with the aid of the local militia, refused to capitulate. The ensuing long standoff between the two sides was eventually resolved with the signing of the Charter of Oistins on the 10th January 1652, an agreement that resulted in very favourable terms for Barbados. This tradition of self-belief has continued into modern times. In the late 1990’s, despite the threat of sanctions, Barbados sought to protect its sovereignty by declining to sign the USA’s ‘Ship Rider Agreement’ until certain unacceptable conditions were amended – which indeed did happen in due course.

Similarly, at the turn of the millennium, Barbados refused to accept the self imposed right of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to blacklist the island as a "tax haven". Rather than submitting to the unjust ruling of this ‘global organization’, Barbados chose to challenge the OECD’s stance and sought to justify its own position in the eyes of the world, thus successfully protecting its carefully planned, well executed and hard earned reputation as a clean and attractive jurisdiction. When Kofi Annan, the then Secretary General of the United Nations, observed that, "Barbados punches above its own weight", he was making a reference to the fact that while small in size, Barbados is big in stature. In addition to having this good reputation for standing up for its rights, Barbados has also long been renowned for its political and social stability, successful economy, financial independence, the integrity of its legal system, and a well educated population.

It is these strong, national characteristics that have enabled Barbados to become one of the world’s top vacation destinations and a leading jurisdiction for investment and international business. Having gained Independence from the United Kingdom in 1966, Barbados is still a relatively young nation. However, by choosing to build upon a solid foundation of "Global Excellence and Barbadian Traditions", this energetic almost 50-year old is clearly maturing very quickly. Indeed, with the country’s collective confidence even further bolstered after successfully hosting the World Cup of Golf 2006 and the ICC Cricket World Cup Final 2007, Barbados has recently launched several major initiatives to consolidate its place on the global stage. All of these new endeavours have been launched in conjunction with the National Strategic Plan 2005 – 2025, a superbly crafted document that has been devised to make Barbados "a fully developed society that is prosperous, socially just and globally competitive".

In harmony with the National Strategic Plan, a Legacy Barbados programme has also been established with a long-term vision to involve all people living in the country to combine their resources tomake Barbados ‘The #1 Place to Live, Work, Play and Invest’. The main common goals of these visionary national plans are to create an environment in Barbados whereby everybody has an opportunity to participate in and benefit from the success of the country, where the quality of life is as good as any other in the world, and where Barbadian products and services are always in demand. To monitor and evaluate the pursuit of these strategic goals, Barbados will be benchmarking itself against the very best in the world. While these are undoubtedly very challenging targets, and as such will require tremendous continued progress to attain them, the Government of Barbados, the Private Sector and Barbadians in general, are all sufficiently confident that they can succeed, that they are not afraid to try.

So, in addition to Barbados being able to draw strength and confidence from a history of great success, it is also a case of ‘Performance by Expectation’. Or as Latin Scholars might say, "Possunt Quia Posse Videntur" – "They can because they think they can." Barbados has a very exciting future. We invite you to share it.

Article written by Keith Miller. 

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