Global economy was negatively impacted by COVID-19 pandemic shock in 2020 then later by cascading crisis in 2022. Barbados is among the most affected economies.
In 2020, its real GDP contracted 17.6% and only rebounded at 2.2% in 2021, which is much lower than the global average.
In 2022, thanks to the recovery of tourism, the country’s economy continues to recover and, according to the Central Bank of Barbados estimates, is likely to achieve double-digit growth. However, considering the deep recession in 2020 and slow growth in 2021, its real GDP will still be lower than the pre-pandemic 2019 level. In fact, since Global Financial Crisis in 2008-2009, Barbadian economy suffered over decade long recession or weak growth. Its real output is yet to be recovered to the 2008 level.
For 2023 and beyond, the external uncertainties and multiple structural challenges, notably high debt-GDP ratio, narrow economic structure, challenging employment market, insufficient regional trade linkages, narrow exports markets, and the fallouts of the climate crisis may restrain the country in achieving strong and sustained recovery from the persistent impact of GFC and Covid shock.
As Bridgetown Covenant, the Outcome Document of UNCTAD XV, highlighted, “transforming economies through diversification” is among the major transformations that are needed to move to a “more resilient, digital and inclusive world of shared prosperity”. For Barbados and many other SIDS economies, diversifying the economic structure and external economic cooperation might be an effective way to enhance resilience and ensure the sustained growth.
UNCTAD has therefore initiated a project of “Promoting Economic Diversification and Resilience in Barbados for a Sustained Recovery from Covid-19 Shock” since 2021.
The Project aims to assist Barbados, through proposing policy strategy recommendations, building institutional capacity, and harnessing the opportunities from regional and broader South-South Cooperation to strengthen its economic diversification and resilience to achieve sustained recovery from the shock of cascading crisis.
The events will include a 2-days capacity building workshop and 1-day national consultation with Barbados government agencies, private sectors and academia.
The workshop will consist of 4 thematic sessions, namely
- global macroeconomic situation and implications on Barbados.
- digital transformation in developing countries and lessons for SIDS.
- regional integration and industrialization strategy for Caribbean region.
- harnessing South-South trade and investment opportunities from the perspective of Barbados.
For each session, panelists from UN agencies, regional organizations, research institutions, and government agencies will share views around the central theme of economic diversification in the context of Barbados’ economy.
The national consultation will be based on bilateral meetings between UNCTAD project team and key economic policy making agencies.
During the meeting, UNCTAD team will present the preliminary economic analysis and policy recommendations under the Project and solicit feedback and comments from the government agencies. UNCTAD team will also undertake extensive consultations with academia and business leaders in Barbados on the policy strategies.
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