By Akanimo Sampson
Barbados has become the latest Caribbean country to launch an online investment guide, iGuide. This is coming as it is preparing to host the 15th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) quadrennial conference in October.
Last February 14, it unveiled the one-stop repository that provides foreign investors with up-to-date information on opportunities and conditions for doing business in the country.
The site, www.theiguides.org/barbados, offers a comprehensive overview of business and labour legislation and various taxes including corporation, property and value-added tax.
It provides current information such as legislation, steps and costs of starting a business on the island, investment opportunities and the country’s business environment.
Chief Executive Officer of Invest Barbados, the country’s economic development agency, Kaye-Anne Brathwaite, says “the iGuide will augment our efforts at making it easier for investors to do business in and with Barbados.”
The guide covers customs duties, double taxation agreements, accommodation and construction in Barbados, among others. It can be translated into any language.
“We anticipate that it will be a tool to attract more foreign investment in line with our developmental needs. It will widen our reach and put Barbados in front of global investors who would consult UNCTAD’s portal while shortlisting potential locations,” Ms. Brathwaite said.
UNCTAD conceptualized online investment guides with the International Chamber of Commerce. They currently cover 36 countries – Barbados is the sixth in the Caribbean.
The Barbados guide was developed in collaboration with the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies and the Caribbean Export Development Agency.
UNCTAD’s Economic Affairs Officer, Ian Richards, says “the iGuide operates from a common platform that allows comparison of information across different countries.”
The guide is designed to complement the Invest Barbados website because it brings together information that would otherwise be scattered online or might not be online.
The next step is the creation of a Caribbean investment portal to be presented at the UNCTAD15 conference in October.
“The idea is not just to promote Barbados but the whole Caribbean as a market for investment opportunities,” Richards said.
Companies that do well in any country and territory in the Caribbean and can meet the challenges of operating on small islands will be able to do well in other countries.
“If you can present the big market, which is the Caribbean, you would be much more successful in attracting investment’’, Richards added.
Investment crucial for development
Private investment is important for Barbados to achieve the UN sustainable development goals, said interim UN resident coordinator for Barbados, Cleveland Thomas.
He pointed to UNCTAD’s calculations showing that globally, $2.5 trillion of private investment would be required per year to help countries meet their targets.
Besides Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Curacao, Jamaica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have iGuides, while St. Kitts as well as Turks and Caicos are currently working on theirs.