“The very necessary social distancing protocols are affecting all workplaces from factories to administration offices. They are affecting sales, whether it is large businesses or small cottage operations. They are also affecting customers’ ability to access goods,” Premier Fahie said on Monday, March 30, 2020, during an online Intra-Regional Commerce and Trade Symposium initiated by the Government of the Virgin Islands, with support from the local business sector.
The Premier said, because of the aforementioned, the projected economic impact, “of this pandemic will prove to be another major test for us all,” when the stockpiles reduce, and raw materials cannot be easily sourced for further manufacturing.
He reminded the regional heads of business organisations in the CARICOM and Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) countries that the Caribbean could suffer.
“You know as well as I do, my friends, that day is just around the bend. As a matter of fact, now that the Coronavirus is here,” he noted.
“The VI is a popular tourist destination, and we entertain a lot of boat charters, yachts and hotel guests. There is a high demand for quality food products – processed and unprocessed, as well as apparel and other goods. The possibilities are, literally, limitless in terms that it is almost a certainty that any goods produced in the region is needed in the BVI, right down to tissue paper,” the Premier stated.
He pointed out that if the region works together, the quality goods can be delivered in each country at a competitive price.
“We understand that success depends on being able to cross the break-even points for volumes in production and shipping [but] by working together, we can establish the volumes for production and consumption that will not only make trade viable, but it will stimulate business growth and economic growth in the participating countries,” he stated.
Among the benefits of uniting on that front would be a “guarantee that our people are fed and clothed; that our Caribbean businesses survive and thrive; that we create jobs for our people; and, that we stabilise the social and economic situation in our countries,” the Premier surmised.
I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.