Worrell: Banking on rum

Governor Dr. DeLisle Worrell

All hope is not lost for Barbados’ important rum industry.

That’s the indication from the Central Bank of Barbados, even as the island and its CARICOM partners continue a major lobby against the United States’ potentially crippling subsidisation of US Virgin Islands producers of the alcoholic commodity.

Central Bank Governor Dr. DeLisle Worrell reported in his annual review today that while agricultural sector output declined by two per cent last year, the $12 million increase in rum sold overseas was the main reason for the overall five per cent increase in exports last year.

Worrell also pointed out that almost half of the island’s rum exports were in a category unlikely to feel the full brunt of the American subsidy.

“With respect to agro-processing, exports of quality rum that is aged, blended and bottled in Barbados, account for 43 per cent of rum exports. This premium segment of the market will be less severely affected by the US subsidisation of commodity rum produced in the US Virgin Islands,” he said.

The governor pointed, however, to a generally negative agricultural performance in 2012, although there was increased sugar production.

“During 2012, output in the agricultural sector is estimated to have contracted by about two per cent, although sugar production increased by 4.4 per cent due to higher yields and favourable weather conditions. Non-sugar agriculture was down four per cent, the third consecutive year of decline,” he said.

“In spite of the uncertainty surrounding the quota system for farmers, the production of fresh milk rose by about five per cent for the year. In contrast, chicken and fish production were lower by an average 23.4 per cent. Fish landings were significantly affected by the presence of decaying seaweed during the first half of the year.” (SC)

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