An Assessment of Barbados' Competitiveness within the EU Market 1992-2006
This paper assesses Barbados' competitiveness within the EU market in light of its recent signing of an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU in 2008. Using SITC data from 1992-2006, indices of revealed comparative advantage (RCA) were calculated. We found that Barbados possesses comparative advantages in Live Animals; Raw Sugars, Beet and Cane; and Spirits. However, policies such as the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), stringent sanitary and phytosanitary requirements, onerous rules of origin and non-tariff barriers including technical barriers to trade, threaten to undermine these advantages. These developments strongly suggest that Barbados must move agriculture up the value chain and increase value-added, as well as integrate it more fully with other sectors of its economy. Greater attention must be focused on countries in the EU other than the UK, if full advantage is to be taken of the EPA, as the UK market is already mature. There is evidence that export opportunities to these countries exist in other commodity groups (Fuels, Lubricants, etc.; Animal, Vegetable Oils Fats, Wax; Chemicals, Related Products; Manufactured Goods). When these issues are placed within the context of Barbados' history of weak capacity to take advantage of the market access opportunities available from their trading arrangements, the overarching challenge for Barbados is one of effective market access. This will require, among other things, a capable export promotion agency. The export of non-traditional commodities should be promoted, and greater support, perhaps in the form of incentives, should be provided to large firms that are not yet exporters to encourage them to look beyond the domestic market.
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