by Emmanuel Joseph

Minister Inniss (second from right) and officials of his ministry listen to Sir David talk rum.
Minister Inniss (second from right) and officials of his ministry listen to Sir David talk rum.

Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, this morning promised to assist the local rum industry in boosting exports to the world market.

Inniss was sharing a news conference at Foursquare Rum Distillery in St. Philip with Executive Chairman of R.L. Seale and Company, Sir David Seale, and Managing Director, Richard Seale, during a tour of the facility.

Accompanied by officials from his ministry and the Division of Commerce, Inniss said: “My ministry and certainly the Government of Barbados, recognised the importance of taking Barbadian products onto the international market. We not only have great skills there, we have a history, we have excellent products that we are quite willing to share with the world.”

Stressing that Barbados was the home of rum, he said there was still much more to be gained from it.

“Barbados is not a low cost location for manufacturing and as a result … we have to tap into the niche areas. Rum is a product that is synonymous with the name Barbados and therefore we have to exploit fully the rum industry,” he added.

The former minister of health said he was of the view that niche markets were the way to go in boosting revenue for the company and economy as a whole, and acknowledged that today’s announcement by R.L Seale of its conclusion of a $100 million contract with Moet Hennessy, was good news in light of a depressed manufacturing sector.

“My ministry stands committed to assisting Foursquare Distillery and other rum producers in Barbados, in getting their products onto the international market in a much larger scale than we are presently doing,” pledged the minister.

He said this did not mean costs had to be added to the manufacturing plant, but rather greater value added to the product.

“This is a unique product. We believe that our rum has certainly started to find its way in niche markets around the world and that it will do well for us. We have great faith in the distillery and the products that they’re producing here and its ability to create jobs and earn foreign exchange and save foreign exchange wherever possible,” declared Inniss.

The minister said too, that the Government was looking at the tax structure that currently governed the rum industry.

“Undoubtedly, the rum industry is under immense pressure for those who export and produce in bulk to other places, including those that are suffering and will suffer from the subsidies being provided by the US Government to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and wherever and their rum industry,” observed the minister of International Business.

He said that while the Ministry of Foreign Trade battled that issue on one front, the country had to, at the same time, aggressively explore new markets for the Barbados rum industry.

“This would mean that the manufacturers in Barbados would have to be very creative in their design and in their own marketing programmes to ensure that they identify and capture new markets for their products,” he added.

“It also means that we have to be bold enough that we have the opportunity at this point in time, to add great value.”

Inniss suggested that in the past, local exporters were at the mercy of the mercantile class overseas, first with respect to the price received for sugar and what Barbados produced and exported to them and more recently, the by-products from sugar.

“The opportunity exists for us now to really manufacture unique products and have a very creative marketing programme to go with it, that says to the world when you hear Barbados, you hear good rum, and when you hear good rum, you think of Barbados. And that is why I think Foursquare has met with great success,” insisted the Minister of Industry.

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