Is Trinidad The Hegemonist Of The Caribbean?


Globalization, a widely used term, can be referred to as the increasing interconnectedness and geographical scale of economic, social, and political interaction. Globalization includes actions to reduce and/or remove barriers to international trade, while promoting new technologies and allowing technologies to be marketed globally. It also involves both national and international policy measures to support expanded transport investments.
(Capineri and Leinbach, 2003; Janelle and Beuthe, 1997)

BU does not intend to bore our readers with all the technical lingo of how globalization and the collateral issues should be defined. We are simply seeking to address issues which resonate with the Barbadian and Caribbean publics. The dominance of Trinidad in the economy of Barbados is already a reality; although the current proposed mergers are being promoted on the basis that as a CARICOM people we need to leverage the resources to combat the onslaught of globalization, Barbadians, like the Bahamians are not convinced that we are headed in the right direction. The sad reality is that globalization by its design will change the traditional way countries have to interact; national boundaries will become blurred. It is this dynamic that will prove to be a challenge for developing countries like Barbados. We continue to look to Professor Howard and other economist out there to address in a more practical way the issue of how small countries like Barbados should chart its path in a global economy.

Despite what Prime Minister Arthur, Deputy Prime Minister Mottley, and other minions think of the simpleton arguments heard on the call-ins, scribed on blogs etc, several opinions are expressed on national issues, the recent letter to the press by Professor Michael Howard should give Barbadians much food for thought. At stake is the stability of a country, which has been the model, and envy of the world. BU thinks we can make the observation that today’s’ “bare foot” politician cannot compare to yesteryears’, who seemed more focused on being a servant to the people.

Is there agreement so far?

The imminent takeover of Barbados’ sole conglomerate  (the shareholders of the respective companies will decide the outcome of the proposed takeover of BS&T by Neal & Massy). The transaction when viewed in strictly economic terms gives the Barbadian shareholder the advantage. Barbadian shareholders in BS&T will no doubt attain a better economic position because of Neal & Massy more dominant balance sheet. If BU is allowed to speculate based on the behavior shown by Barbadian shareholders in the ICB, Sagicor, and BNB transactions, Barbadians will jump at the opportunity to benefit from the windfall of selling their shares. We are not sure that Barbadians should be blamed if this were to happen. The bigger problem as we see it has been the inability of an Arthur administration, which is vying for an unprecedented fourth term, to energize the private sector to invest outside of Barbados.

We have heard the argument that T&T is seeking to dominate the Caribbean now that they have the petro-dollars to spend. Many Barbadians see the strategy not as one which makes perfect business sense, that is, for Trinidad to find ways to diversify its economy by entering the non-petroleum sectors which other countries in the Caribbean offer. Barbados, given its good governance and solid infrastructure coupled with a private sector, remains in a state of inertia. If BU were in the Trinidad businessmen position,we would be doing the same thing. However, the current state of things does not make Barbadians view the goings-on with any enthusiasm. Trinidad has established a company, which has been mandated to seek new markets; they have a well-articulated plan that is being implemented with the best brains, which the country has to offer. Barbados on the other has a National Strategic Plan, which at best can be described as a well written document and that is all. The closure of the deal between BS&T and Neal & Massy will see the Trinidadians consolidating dominance in the distributive sector, and having a firm hold on much of the prime real estate in Barbados, which includes the lands on the Pier Head. The banking sector is lead by Barbados National Bank, which is owned by the T&T Republic Bank. In the insurance sector we can find Sagicor, CLICO, Guardian Life, British American and others, which are majority or 100% owned Trinidadian companies. We cannot list them all because so many T&T concerns exist.

BU like most Barbadians is concerned about the Trinidad invasion. We hesitate to think that there is a hegemony conspiracy. What is known is that Trinidad experienced a melt down of its economy in the 70s and has spent the last 20 years replacing the underbelly of its economy. It has now reached a strength, which has given impetus to expansionist strategies. Unfortunately, Barbados is many years behind and the jury is out what the future holds. If Barbadians doubt how far they are behind Trinidad, they can check this website out.

Related Story: Trini’s Taking Over Barbadian Companies~Arthur Believes In Open Door Policy

12 thoughts on “Is Trinidad The Hegemonist Of The Caribbean?

  1. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago: Globalization

  2. It is just like cricket. Having the best thing for a given era normally means that one tends to hold on to memories when everyone else (especially those who were behind you in your good old days) have long since changed and moved on.
    It would take incisive and visionary leadership to bring things around at this late stage. From the looks of things it is too late to change proactively. But change WILL happen- and in the other scenario, we will have little say in the outcomes…

  3. I am particularly disturbed at the reaction of the press to the merger of BS&T and N&M. There needs to be an objective assessment of the take over of BS&T before the june 27th meeting. Shareholders need to wake up and realise that their company is being sold at a huge discount. if the directors cant turn it around then step aside and let the shareholders appoint independent directors. I relaise that shareholders like N&M and Sagicor will continue to want to have a director each on the board

  4. anon~the N&M takeover cannot be stopped, it is too late!

    The question which Barbadians must ask is why has successive governments supported the obsolete structures which BS&T have relied on for so many years though the world was changing apace.

  5. Time to wake up and smell the coffee!

    All businesses in the Caribbean face some certain choices about our future, one of which is that we either grow to the scale where we can compete internationally, or become totally irrelevant and ultimately disappear.

    Instead of concentrating our often parochial efforts on worrying about competition from within the region, we should instead be focusing on doing exactly what Neal & Massy and BS&T are doing, i.e. trying to create Caribbean companies that can compete with the best internationally.

    And that does not necessarily mean only that we must venture out into the so-called First World to ply our trade, but that we must be efficient and well managed enough to withstand the incursions of foreign businesses within our own domestic markets, a reality that we cannot change.

  6. Gerard~thanks for your comment.
    I think you would have discerned that the thrust of <strong>BU’s</strong> position is not so much that M&A’s will not occur but to focus on the defensive positions of Barbadian companies, in this case our largest conglomerate which was eaten up by Neal & Massy.
    Douglas Skeete in Barbados commented that recently N&M bough some shares in B&T which gave it over 23% shareholding in BS&T. It is note worthy that 25% share holding in any company listed on the Stock Exchange will trigger the take-over code. We all more than suspect that BS&T found itself in a position where to avoid the embarrassment of a fight which they would have lost…they elected to buckle.
    Barbadian companies because of the strength of the Barbados dollar would have had all the ingredients over the years to expand. Instead Barbados companies have elected to be ultra-conservative in strategy. The inevitable consequential chain of events will no doubt follow

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