Montserrat Must Export to Grow, says Minister of Trade

Hon. Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Trade, Housing & the Environment, Claude Hogan
Hon. Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Trade, Housing & the Environment, Claude Hogan

BRADES – Montserrat has the potential to grow but for this to happen it needs to export to the region and/or international markets, says the Hon. Minister of Trade Claude Hogan.

The minister made the comments recently via his social media space, noting that his government had identified four potential growth clusters for the island but charged that DfID was being shortsighted in its approach to supporting their plans.

“Both population and economic growth can occur in these clusters: 1. Fibre Optic connections to the international super-highway allows for call centre development catering for UK hospitals, certain UK defence needs, university and college registration; 2. Geothermal brings cheap energy but we need to build around that factories for glass or cement manufacturing and the like on a Caribbean to international scale of output. We do have lots of the raw material and the renewable energy we have for high energy reliant products would clinch the deal;

“3. Quarry & Aggregate Export is in high demand in the Caribbean. We propose to add a barge and take a fraction of the shipping value chain (e.g. US$7 per ton to Antigua) as well. If we could develop our own retail outlets in the USVI, Trinidad & Tobago,  etc at US$75 per ton, who will complain? 4. We propose to develop a Montserrat Brand for a narrow range of products initially targeting our Diaspora to include a hot pepper range, a bottled water, agro-processed goods including Cassava Bread,” the minister wrote.

Hogan added that the value chains within the four clusters would make room for a range of professionals from scientists, researchers, shippers, operators, truckers, technicians, bakers, food growers, processors, retailers, insurance brokers, truckers, port workers, accountants, word processors, etc.

He said economic growth in these sectors would mean the population must grow.

“The problem is that DfID financing and support sees the planned projects as an end in themselves. So we think the geothermal plant and cheap home electricity is sufficient. DfID has the contacts and logistics to get Montserratians into real opportunity, but they are playing a game of deliberate short-sightedness. Could they have built-in international partners for the geothermal plant and could UK out-sourced call centres be diverted to British Montserrat from India, where English is another language?

“Montserrat needs a deal where we do something in the world and for the world. We don’t need to be a military base, if we are treated like we even belong with the UK. There is great growth potential in Montserrat, but we need an entry into the regional and global economy. We need to export something,” wrote Hogan.