Opening Ceremony

21 May 2024 09:00h - 10:00h

Table of contents

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Full session report

Global Supply Chain Forum 2024: Charting a Resilient Future in Barbados

The Global Supply Chain Forum 2024, held in Barbados, was a significant event that brought together prominent figures to discuss the challenges and future of global supply chains. The forum was marked by speeches from UNCTAD Secretary General Rebeca Grynspan, United Nations Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed, and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor-Mottley.

Rebeca Grynspan highlighted the fragility of global supply chains, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical conflicts, and climate change. She emphasized the disproportionate impact on small island developing states (SIDS), which face higher maritime costs and greater vulnerability to global disruptions. Grynspan called for a transformation towards more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient supply chains, stressing the importance of supporting SMEs, women-owned businesses, and ensuring all countries have a voice in shaping global trade.

Amina J. Mohammed echoed the need for a strong multilateral response to the challenges facing global trade. She pointed out the decline in trade volume, the surge in trade restrictions, and the fragmentation of global trade due to geopolitical tensions. Mohammed urged resistance to isolationist policies and advocated for multilateralism and regional strategies to foster resilience and sustainable development.

Prime Minister Mia Amor-Mottley provided a host nation's perspective, detailing the specific struggles faced by Barbados and other SIDS. She spoke of the island's experiences with natural disasters and their impact on infrastructure and supply chains. Mottley underscored the urgency of addressing the challenges posed by the climate crisis, debt crisis, and geopolitical tensions. She outlined Barbados' commitment to becoming a logistics hub and expanding the Bridgetown Port to provide alternative routes in the event of regional disruptions.

The forum also addressed topics such as the geography of trade and maritime logistics, climate adaptation, food insecurity, pooled procurement, efficient port management, and responsible business conduct. The discussions aimed to explore policy options and practical solutions to improve global supply chains, with a focus on inclusivity, sustainability, and resilience.

In conclusion, the Global Supply Chain Forum 2024 served as a platform for critical dialogue and collaboration. It brought to light the unique challenges faced by SIDS and the need for a collective effort to reform global supply chains, ensuring they are fair and equitable for all nations, regardless of size or economic status.

Session transcript

Belle Holder:
And I feel as though this is a room that could use a burst of just energy. So let me say welcome to Barbados, for those of you who are visiting the island. And good morning, everyone. By just a round of applause, let's just get the energy going in the room, everybody. Yeah. Very nice. Thank you. Thank you. At this time, we are awaiting the arrival of the officials. And we are just doing so at the moment, and we will get the proceedings underway. Thank you so much. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Please stand for the arrival. of Her Excellency Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary General of UNCTAD. Her Excellency Amina J. Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary General, and Her Excellency the Honorable Mia Amor-Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados. Ladies and gentlemen, we welcome Her Excellency Rebeca Grynspan, Her Excellency Amina J. Mohammed, and Her Excellency the Honorable Mia Amor-Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados. Ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing for the National Anthem of Barbados. National Anthem of Barbados, National Anthem of Barbados, National Anthem of Barbados, National Anthem of Barbados, National Anthem of Barbados, National Anthem of Barbados, Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. Good morning to you once again, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Belle Holder, your Master of Ceremony this morning. I take this opportunity to say good morning and welcome once again to the Global Supply Chain Forum 2024. Yeah, you can cheer for that. An official good morning to Her Excellency, the Honourable Mia Amor-Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados. Her Excellency, Amina J. Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary General. Her Excellency, Rebecca Grynspan, Secretary General of UNCTAD. Honourable Ministers, Heads of Agencies, Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Dignitaries, members of the private sector, specially invited guests, visitors to Barbados, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen, welcome. It is my distinct pleasure to have the opportunity to welcome you to this most auspicious occasion. Welcome once again to the inaugural Global Supply Chain Forum, organized by UN Trade and Development and the Government of Barbados. It is no mistake that you are in this room today, and you are charged with the responsibility of doing the work that's necessary to make positive change. Ladies and gentlemen, I will go straight to our first speaker. Please welcome Her Excellency, Rebecca Grynspan, UNCTAD's Secretary General. Please give her a warm welcome.

Rebeca Grynspan:
Your Excellency, Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, and our most gracious host, thank you so much. In fact, you know, this event started with a conversation with the Prime Minister. Minister of Barbados, after our ministerial conference, where she asked for two things. She asked for UNCTAD to be much more engaged with the small island development states. And now, because of that, we have the first strategy ever with SEADS that UNCTAD has put together. And we were in the middle of the pandemic then. We forget. And so we were talking about the huge challenges that the SEADS and the islands face because of logistics. So the idea of a forum came about, and that's why we are having this first forum, but also not the last, because what we want to do, what we intend to do, is to have this as the first, but as really a tradition for us for the future. And here we already will announce today where the next forum will be. So be with us and be free to have that announcement very soon. I want also to thank Amina Mohamed, the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, a dear friend, for being here. Amina, it means a lot. Thank you so much. And we have the delegates and the authorities from many countries. You have come from far away, so really thank you for being with us. Excellency, this is really an honor for us. And also our colleagues from the UN that are here with us, thank you so much for coming, for being here, and for making this event even more important with your presence. and Ambassadors, Authorities, Distinguished Delegates, Excellencies, dear friends. Really, it is my great honor and pleasure to be here in this first-ever UN Global Supply Chain Forum, an event of special pertinence to the world we face today. Recent years have exposed the alarming fragility of what we once took for granted, in this case, the steady flow of goods and materials across continents through intricate webs of infrastructure and logistics. The COVID-19 pandemic, whose dire economic impact nobody here in Barbados needs reminding, laid bare these vulnerabilities. Lockdowns, severe vital production lines, empty shipping containers piled up in the wrong places, and maritime costs skyrocketed, turbocharging inflation around the globe, but very especially in small island developing states. According to our research, higher maritime costs have five times the impact on inflation in seats than in the rest of the world. Five times. Five hundred percent. Then came the war in Ukraine, which for five months sealed the Great Black Sea Grain Corridor, bringing food prices to heights never recorded in modern history. Until in July 2022, the UN and Turkey brokered the Black Sea Initiative and for a year reopened that corridor, bringing the FAO food price index down by 23 percent and returning back some calm to food markets. And as if that were not enough, then came the terrible crisis in the Middle East, and the attacks in the Red Sea, which forced many ships going from Asia to Europe and back to go down the old road around the Cape of Good Hope. And then, lastly, on the other side of the world, a drought in the Panama Canal brought traffic down in that great other inter-oceanic corridor, stranding ships once more or forcing them southward to the Magellan Strait, down there where South America almost meets Antarctica. In combination, according to our research, by February this year, traffic in the Red Sea and the Panama Canal was cut by half. I have just visited the Panama Canal precisely to see with my own eyes what was happening. And they are really doing a great job in trying to take away the restriction and face the challenge. But you can see how climate change is really affecting the main roads of the world. And yesterday, Prime Minister, you were telling me that the Atlantic is the most affected because precisely the Panama Canal and the Suez Canal are to connect the one side with the other of the oceans. And these disruptions also meant that ships spend more days at sea, emitting 70% more greenhouse gases. But more fundamentally, they meant that our interconnected world became less reliable and far less certain. So, Your Excellencies, a greater, more fair, more sustainable, more inclusive story of globalization must start. in the supply chains that we built to tell it. We believe it is possible. Three key words stand out here today, at the start of this forum. Inclusivity, sustainability, and resilience. On inclusivity, the global supply chains we want to build must be one where SMEs stand a fighting chance to share the benefits of trade in a way that is fair for all. In particular, for women-owned businesses and youth entrepreneurs. In this sense, the health of our chains must be measured not only by how long they are globally, but also by how deep they are locally. We must ask, where do our supply chains start? Do they start at the copper mine, or the oil field, or the cotton farm, to then take the high road to port and then to sea? Or do our chains start at the local schoolyard, where children receive healthy meals from locally produced ingredients? Do they start with the skilled artisan, whose products find buyers worldwide? Do they empower women to take their rightful place in the global economy? This is the essence of inclusive supply chains that build communities from the ground up, ensuring structural transformation and fighting back against commodity dependence. But inclusivity also means ensuring that all countries, regardless of their size or economic status, have a voice in shaping global supply chains. Do our current trade agreements prioritize the interests of powerful nations over the needs of developing countries? Are we doing enough to support small island development states? and landlocked countries in accessing global markets? And perhaps more importantly, are we building supply chains that foster collaboration and share prosperity, or are we simply perpetuating a system of winners and losers? And this is even more important today, Prime Minister, because today we see a rise in protectionism. We hear again industrial policy come into bear. We see also big countries integrating vertically that can really impact supply chains and the possibility of the decentralization of international economics. So all these questions that we will discuss here are key for the healthy development of our nations. On sustainability, the global supply chains we want to build must be ones where ports go paperless, where ships use sustainable fuels based on common IMO standards, and we have here the head of IMO with us, where trade is digital, with the help perhaps, I hope, of the UN Trade and Development and our program ASICUDA, something that we are doing in Barbados, and where supply chains are green from the start. Shipping represents 3% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, a number we ought to bring down through a decisive transition to sustainable maritime fuels, a task in which we are working hand in hand with the IMO. But even as we work on the pollution that happens through logistics, we must also talk about what is polluted at the source. It's time for a frank conversation about what goods get made in the first place. And more than that, how? We must reward companies that invest in clean production processes and hold accountable those who do not, while ensuring the framework of just transitions enshrined in the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. We can only truly transform how goods move by changing what goods we make and value and how we make them. And here we have also the head of UNIDO with us, that is an organization completely committed to this endeavor. Lastly, on resilience, the global supply chains we want to build must be strong, flexible and adaptable, so that when a drought strikes a great canal, when a new conflict reroutes shipping roads, or when a new pandemic forces us to rethink production and consumption, our goods don't become collateral damage. Our people don't suffer needlessly, and countries don't lose their development gains. This means diversifying suppliers and production hubs, promoting regional trade, and developing infrastructures that open markets within countries themselves. But all that needs financing, needs resources, needs investment. And one of the things precisely that we have been saying, and going to the Summit of the Future in September, called by the Secretary General, is that we need a new dynamic in investment and trade that have been weak after the pandemic in the developing countries. We need the resources that will allow deferred transition. We need the investment coming from the private sector at scale, so we can diversify. and be part of the gains of the new economy and the digital economy. And this forum provides concrete tools and technical assistance in applying inclusiveness, sustainability and resilience in supply chains, promoting sustainable and resilient measures in maritime and regional corridors, and fostering rural-urban transport connections, climate-smart transport and trade facilitation solutions. So, distinguished delegates, it is no coincidence that this inaugural forum is convened here in Barbados, in the heart of the Caribbean. This region, as we know, is a microcosm of the challenges and opportunities facing global supply chains today. The week after this event, we will have SITS4 that will take place in Antigua and Barbuda, further solidifying the Caribbean's leadership role in shaping a more inclusive and sustainable future. We hope this Global Supply Chain Forum, daughter of the Bridgetown Covenant we signed here in Barbados with Prime Minister Motley in 2021, in our last ministerial conference, will become the first of many. It certainly could not come at a more pertinent one. But we must also recognize that the solutions we seek will not be found solely within this Grand Hall. They lie in the ingenuity of the small business owners seeking to reduce waste, in the innovation of the engineer designing a greener cargo ship, in the knowledge of the farmer adapting crops to a changing climate. Let this forum amplify those voices. Let us create a platform for sharing best practices, for matching those seeking solutions with those... who can provide them, with 982 guests from 127 countries, with representatives of 12 international agencies, and 12 ministers and CEOs from industries all around the globe. We have never had such a great opportunity to do so. I want to take then this opportunity to thank all of you once more for being here today, Your Excellencies. I am under no illusion about the challenges ahead. Forming global supply chains is an undertaking of immense complexity, but the cost of doing nothing is far greater. We owe it to our people, to our planet, and to future generations to act with urgency, with purpose, and with unwavering conviction. Let us rise to this challenge together. I really thank you all for being here.

Belle Holder:
Ladies and gentlemen, Rebecca Grynspan Secretary General of UN Trade and Development. Please give her another round of applause. And now, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the podium the UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohamed.

Amina J. Mohammed:
Your Excellency, Prime Minister Mia Mottley, our Secretary General Rebecca Grinspan. Excellencies, distinguished delegates, and guests, it's a real pleasure to join you here today, and I'd like to thank the government and the people of Barbados for their incredibly warm and generous hospitality. Not the first time I've witnessed it, but it's fantastic to do it to such a great crowd that is coming to the island for a really important discussion. I'd like to thank also Rebecca. Rebecca, this is a great program. I went through it and I was wishing that I was in every one of those sessions and having a hard job to choose which one. This is really a rich program, and it has got together here today, I think, the brain trust of this constituency to really debate for us how globalization can work better for everyone. It's important at this stage. We have witnessed so many challenges and the unequal response to people of the world, and so this is an opportunity to try to set it right. We know that today global trade is fraught with challenges. We have just heard that. More importantly, the uncertainties, and this is all threatening decades of progress and our attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. Last year, trade volume fell more than 1%. Compare that to the average growth rate of 2.5% since 2010. Meanwhile, we're witnessing a staggering surge in trade restrictions with approximately 3,000 measures imposed, and that is almost three times the level since 2019. We're seeing geopolitical tensions that are fragmenting global trade. Since the war in Ukraine began, trade between rival blocs has lagged, growing up to 6% slower than trade between blocs themselves. And if these trends continue unabated, decades of economic convergence and shared prosperity could rapidly unravel with dire consequences for people, and especially those in the most vulnerable of countries. In this context, global supply chains emerge as a new source of vulnerability. As Rebecca has said earlier, the COVID-19 pandemic was the first wake-up call. exposing the fragility of our intricate networks and the cascading effects of disruptions. More recently, we've witnessed conflict and climate change devastate critical trade routes. Turmoil in Ukraine and Yemen has disrupted vital shipping lanes. The climate crisis has also brought unprecedented drought to the Panama Canal and has forced authorities to restrict maritime traffic, impacting trade. These ripple effects on these disruptions have staggering significant delays, increased costs, and economic uncertainty, especially for the populations of our women and our young people, who are the backbone of small and medium enterprises. In the face of these challenges, a strong and coordinated multilateral response is paramount. First, we must resist the temptation of pursuing isolationist policies as we witnessed during the pandemic. Instead, we must embrace multilateralism, recognizing that our fates are intertwined and that no nation can thrive in isolation, even more so as we face the advent of new technologies. This Global Supply Chain Forum is a testament to our collective determination to address these challenges head-on. It's a platform for dialogue, collaboration, collective action, sharing knowledge, bringing together stakeholders from every corner of the globe to confront challenges and explore solutions. Second, one of the key themes of this forum is the regional response to supply chain disruptions. The impact of these disruptions can vary significantly across regions. We must tailor our strategies and responses to mitigate the effects of these disruptions and foster resilience. Policy measures to prioritize diversification, improve our logistics, and strengthen collaboration can help address challenges and ensure sustainable development growth for every region. Third, we must address the unique challenges that are faced by small island developing states. Their geographical isolation, dispersed populations, and reliance on external markets render them particularly vulnerable to supply chain disruptions. For example, 17 CIDs are among the 30 economies least connected to liner shipping. Although rising container shipping costs increase consumer prices worldwide, the impact on CIDs is five times greater than the global average. This forum presents an opportunity to address these challenges and develop pragmatic approaches to sustainable development and resilient transport for CIDs. Excellencies, friends, and colleagues, solidarity and cooperation have defined UNCTAD's six-decade journey. Let's embrace that spirit today. The forum marks a pivotal moment as we chart a new path forward, one that is inclusive, sustainable, and resilient in the face of change. The discussions and outcomes of this meeting will accelerate our progress towards sustainable development goals, but it will also impact and inform the summit of the future, where we discuss root causes of peace and conflict, the new era of technology, and most importantly, how we find an international financial architecture that really does respond to the needs of the other half of the world. Solidarity will also shape UNCTAD's agenda. Let's make the most of this chance. Let us use this forum to help forge a brighter future, a future where no nation is left behind, a future where global trade remains a powerful force for economic growth, prosperity, and sustainable development. And let me end by saying it's a real pleasure to be on stage today with Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Rebecca Grynspan, and just to say to the men, today you are endangered species. And a lady. Thank you.

Belle Holder:
Ladies and gentlemen, once again, Ms. Amina J. Mohammed. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, was held in Barbados in 2021, making this gem of the Caribbean Sea the first small island developing state to do so. It was a proud moment for Barbadians. Barbados' Prime Minister, Mia Amor-Mottley, graced international stages with the weight of the region's small island developing states and the might of the small island development collective. Fast forward to today, 2024, amid international conflicts, rising shipping costs, the Red Sea crisis, and Barbados has made history once again by now hosting the first global supply chain forum here at the Lloyd Erskine Sandford Center. Ladies and gentlemen, it is fitting now that we hear directly from UNCTAD President, Mia Amor-Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados.

Mia Amor Mottley:
Thank you very much, Bel, and ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank these two ladies for being here this morning and allowing us the opportunity to have this most important discussion. But I also want to thank the Director General of UNIDO, Mr. Mulla, who has joined us, indeed the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization, Mr. Dominguez, the Executive Director of UN Global Compact, and the Acting President of the Caribbean Development Bank. the representative, the general manager for the Caribbean region from the Inter-American Development Bank, and indeed the chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Mr. Hongbin, who has also joined us, along with a number of other ministers and representatives of the diplomatic corps, delegates, all. You may ask yourself, why Barbados and why this topic? The truth is that we came together in 2021, as you heard, as the smallest nation ever to host an organization that was set up to make a difference in the lives of developing countries, particularly in the area of trade. The fact that this is happening here in our small island state should not go unnoticed. And I want to thank you, Rebecca, your staff, and indeed the Barbados team for bringing together, I think you told me, about 900 persons who have come as delegates in this trade development and transport sector focus, along with others from the private sector, UN agencies and civil society to begin to have a discussion on one of the most fundamental crises facing us as a nation today, unpredictable, ruptured, and distorted global supply chains. The response to this forum has been overwhelming, and I know that as we leave here on Friday, many of you will be going on to our sister nation of Antigua and Barbuda, within the Caribbean community, who will have the honor of hosting SIDS 4. For those of you who do not know, this building exists because of SIDS 1. Thirty years ago this year, the first Small Island Development States Forum was held. in Barbados, and out of that came the Barbados Program of Action, and it resulted in the then government ensuring that we needed somewhere for people to meet. And there was legacy from that meeting, just as there is legacy today from UNCTAD 15 being hosted in 2021. The reality is that we need to have a greater understanding of what small states face going forward. I ask you why here? Because you hear me say all the time that people don't see or hear people or nations sufficiently, and by hosting this session and by accepting the responsibility for being of UNCTAD at this time, especially as it celebrates its 60th anniversary, is literally because we need you to appreciate and understand our story and our perspective as a small island developing state. Very often we are asked to participate in international fora without an appreciation that our capacity in participating does not lead to any distortion of those matters of concern of public affairs or public policy. I give the example all of the time of our percentage of global trade in goods and services that have no capacity to distort global trade, because in goods it is 0.000% and in services it is 0.001%. But yet the rules were applied 30-something years ago to us as one, as if we had nothing else to suffer from, only then to see. the diminution and collapse, in some instances, of our agricultural and manufacturing sectors because of the one-size-fits-all rule and a failure of the international community to be able to allow us to have special and differential treatment that would be appropriate to our circumstances. I want to remind us that when we met at UNCTAD 15, we met in the middle of the pandemic. It is almost easy to forget that as we meet here today. And at that point, we saw literally the best and the worst of humanity. We saw the outpouring of support by some to provide countries like ourselves with access to vaccines and medical products, but we also saw essential supply chains shorten and divert away from those of us who were already the most unconnected, the islands, the least developed countries, the poorest communities. We knew then that one of the transformative outcomes of our country's presidency of UNCTAD would be to engender a discussion on how better to make supply chains work for growth and development. If you ever wondered what the wild, wild west looked like, then you should have come to a small island state in the middle of the pandemic, because there was nothing called rules. There was nothing called fairness. There was the domination of the mighty over those who could barely seek to survive. Rebecca, I therefore want to thank you on behalf of the people, not just of Barbados, not just of the Caribbean community, but of all small island developing states, for keeping your promise to return here and focus on this matter. of global supply chain disruptions and the impact that it is having on the cost of cargo, transportation, and overall cost of living for our people, particularly the most vulnerable of our people. And I want to thank you for also ensuring that under your tenure, this organization that is celebrating, as I said, its 60th year, has taken the time to see, study, and appreciate the realities of small island developing states, given what I just said about our experience at the beginning of the establishment of the World Trade Organization. To have this chain here, Global Supply Chain Forum here, is fortuitous in this 60th year, and we thank you for it. You know, they used to say that life began at 40, but I think that all of us agree now with medical improvements that life should at least begin at 60, if not 70. And the forum would be nothing without you, the partners who are here today, and we thank you therefore for coming. One of the things that we carry from UNCTAD 15 was the theme, from inequality and vulnerability to prosperity for all. And this forum, therefore, embodies all that we put together with the Bridgetown Covenant, not the initiative, the Bridgetown Covenant, and indeed the spirit of Spikestown, and the SIDS Declaration, which collectively set out the main global challenges impacting the UN membership, and the transformations that are necessary to reduce inequality, build resilience, and indeed, Amina, attain the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which is really just our natural development platform. These three outcomes demonstrated the power of multilateralism. the ability of states to overcome differences and through a common sense of purpose to achieve meaningful outcomes. We've seen a renewed focus in UNCTAD on the interests, therefore, of these small island developing states and this strategy that you've launched with a related trust fund will bring meaningful benefits to our people. That said, over the past three years, the world has continued a pace and it has continued a pace with a focus and an instability that makes the pursuit of prosperity for all a difficult, difficult challenge for the rest of us. The reality is, we've heard it from all of you, that even as the effects of the pandemic subsided, what did we have? Other crises emerging that, if not contained, would collectively threaten and still do the very foundations of multilateralism. We know that the state of world affairs, therefore, is significantly, significantly more volatile than it was in 2021 when you were last here. And this has had a direct impact, as both of you have indicated this morning, on maritime, on shipping. Whether we like it or not, 80% of the world's trade takes place through shipping. 80%. And when you start to frame the pandemic as the backdrop, where supply chains were disrupted at the point of manufacturing and not transport, and then you add to it what has happened between the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal, one reflecting, in fact, a microcosm of what we're seeing in the world, one reflecting consequences from war, man-made. and one reflecting consequences from nature, but propelled by man. The reality is traditional shipping routes have now become war zones, and this is driving up the cost for carriers, for importers, and for consumers worldwide. The geopolitical tensions and conflicts are causing major disruptions to the maritime industry and the movement of cargo, and a number of the major carriers are now forced to travel longer, as we've heard, in order to reach their destination. Indeed, I believe it was Maersk that said recently that these disruptions are causing them to face increased energy consumption as high as 40% in some vessels and in some other vessels as high as 70% in order to get to their destinations because of the new routes that they now have to travel. So who suffers? Who suffers? It's ordinary people, and it's our people who continue to suffer, largely because, according to UNCTAD, we will recognize that small island developing states as a group pays more than any other country group for transport, and I want to repeat it for my own citizens because sometimes we take so much for granted. Small island developing states pay more than any country grouping for the transport and insurance of maritime imports. The reality is that during the COVID period, transport and insurance costs rose by 76% when compared with the period before the pandemic, and the data suggests that the recent supply chain crisis led to consumer price increases in small island developing states, yet again, that far outstrip those in other developing countries and across the rest of the world. over the last year, 10 years, sorry, line of connectivity for small island developing states has become scarcer. It has fallen by 10% as compared to the world average, which has fallen, I think, by about 8%. In other words, we are the first to lose market share. We're the last to be seen. And we are the ones who now carry the brunt of the global, how shall I put it, to be polite, the global obsession with the pursuit of a lifestyle that runs contrary to everything that is necessary to save the planet and our civilization. In Barbados, we continue to appreciate what this means. Because in 2021, we had a number of events influenced by nature and climate. The volcanic eruption in St. Vincent and the Grenadines led to our port being shut down for seven days and our airport being shut down for nine days, even though Barbados is a coral stone island with no volcano. Within less than two months, we had a freak storm for 90 minutes that had 46,000 lightning strikes. And if you were not living here and part of it, you'll find it difficult to contemplate what I mean. Because it was like a continuous strobe light in the night for 90 minutes. And two weeks after that, we had our first hurricane in 66 years, leading also to significant damage through the loss of houses and other critical infrastructure. Last year, 38 of our buildings. closed for environmental problems and the experts are telling us that much of this relates to the consequences of the fine volcanic dust that literally entered all of the mechanical and engineering systems that we have in the country and some of which became difficult to clean. I paint this picture for you because you have to better understand why we are driven to the Bridgetown Initiative and our determination to be able to reform the global financial architecture and to create a fair opportunity and a new deal for developing countries whether they are vulnerable middle income countries or vulnerable small island developing states. The ability therefore for us to be able to have inclusive, sustainable and resilient supply chains matter because we already have significant competing demands for what we must spend our resources on. At the same time, our citizens want to know why the price of certain food has gone up, why the price of certain goods has gone up, what is going on and the outcry of the populations the world over is the same. It is therefore important that we come together in forums such as these to be able to understand significantly how we can make a meaningful difference to move in from the clearly outmoded objective of the most efficient supply chain to the most resilient supply chain given all that is happening globally. We want in addition to recognize that if the funding is barely available for us to adapt to the new realities of climate, Then, we will become compromised in our ability to be able to put together the funding for us to improve the supply chain capacity within the region, because the Caribbean, as a series of islands predominantly, needs sea bridges and air bridges. But very often, the investment doesn't make sense, because the size of our populations do not allow people to get the return on investment that they otherwise need. But it is still a critical public good, because without the air and sea bridges, we are literally locked off from the promise and potential of true development. I say these things once again to remind you that people make judgments without necessarily recognizing that sometimes you need a leveling hand, and that leveling hand has to be in the area of both finance, as well as policy space, in order to be able to make the difference for us just to have a genuine opportunity to be able to participate. With respect to new areas of economic activity, we believe that we still have a role to play. Barbados has had a tax regime with respect to international shipping, and the reality is that the global minimum tax has meant that we've had to make significant changes to our corporation tax reform. In fact, the legislation only passed Parliament last week, and we have done so, playing our own role in ensuring that we set a corporate tax that not only is applicable to our own set of industry and those who domicile here, but that we do so recognizing that the top-up tax that is going to be applied by the North Atlantic countries predominantly will in fact start from this year. The truth is that while we did that, we felt that we needed to ring-fence international shipping and the regime that we have for it, largely because we need to have in-depth consultations, which, in fact, will start very shortly now that we have passed the rest of the other legislation. And in the interim, we've kept the effective tax, which is close to 1%, but recognizing that we need to have a new regime and a new deal for international shipping. Barbados has, and we will do so between now and the 30th of June, Barbados has traditionally been a hub. We were the hub for the wrong reasons for more than three centuries. But we believe in a world today where we must find resilient supply chains and where hurricanes come across this region with the ease with which you can brush on a canvas, a paintbrush, that we have to have alternative opportunities. And to that extent, it is the government's policy to be able to ensure that we beef up all of our logistics capacity and to be able to expand the Bridgetown Port over the course of the next decade in order to give the countries of this hemisphere other opportunities in the event of the destruction that can be wrought within less than 24 hours of the infrastructure of our island states. We know that traditionally many go north, Jamaica and Bahamas and Miami, but that is sometimes the epicenter of the hurricane track, as we have come to learn, regrettably. It is for that reason, therefore, that we understand that those of us who live in the south of the Caribbean have a responsibility, if only to be able to ensure security and stability of supply from food and critical supplies that we have the capacity within our port and coast. infrastructure to be able to be an alternative at a minute's notice. That means, therefore, having the investment in resilience that you, Rebecca, have been speaking about and that will allow us to work with other partners, be it Panama and others, to ensure that this region is not cut off from the multiple modes of production which more and more are to the east of the Americas. I look forward, therefore, my friends, to us working and ensuring that we can plan out these things and today we start a process where you, over the next few days, will have a number of discussions with respect to the things that ought to matter. The geography of trade and maritime logistics. As I said, we were a hub for the wrong reasons. We can be a hub for the right reasons. Climate adaptation, disaster risk reduction, and port management. We don't think often of how infrastructure will be affected in hurricanes and floods, but as I just pointed out to you, when we had the ash fall, both of our ports, airport and seaport, were victims in a major way as a result. Food insecurity and freight logistics. A hungry man is an angry man and political stability and social stability depends on us ensuring that people can eat and at affordable costs and healthy food rather than believing that only a few have a right to live in this world. And that is not to ignore the necessity for domestic food production, but the reality is that small populations invariably mean higher unit costs and therefore small populations need to expand their base of production. through exports in order to be able to reduce the cost of food for their populations locally. That is what Barbados is seeking to do now with the establishment of agri-processing as a key economic sector, not only relying on domestic production, but production within the immediate southern and eastern Caribbean and indeed coastal Latin America from Venezuela to Brazil to Colombia. In pooled procurement and innovative technologies for supply chains, I have to thank the people of Africa. Were it not for the African Medical Supplies Platform, where would we be? Many of us as small island developing states during the pandemic were completely ignored. The African Medical Supplies Platform taught us the power of pooled procurement on a digital platform such that an island with 38,000 people like Sinkits could access therapeutics, vaccines, and equipment at the same price that a country like Nigeria with over 250 million people could access. We look forward to being able to use these platforms to fight the big issue of our region, which is effectively water. We talk about hurricanes and floods, but we forget that the real day-to-day way in which we hit the ground confronting the climate crisis is in fact with water scarcity. And you will regrettably only need to look around my otherwise beautiful island to see how brung it is and to understand the implications of what we're facing. Last year, in the first six months of the year, Barbados had 50% of the rainfall of the 30-year average. So you begin to understand, and we were already before that, the 15th most water-scarce country in the world. You will discuss this week building sustainable, resilient, and cost-efficient logistics, as I said. to be able to deal with these vaccines and other therapeutics in Latin America and the Caribbean. My country is pursuing a policy to be able to have us up our level of production within the pharmaceutical industry. We have had pharmaceutical company here since 1888, but it has been involved in fill and finish at the very time that we have in Latin America and the Caribbean an inability to access some of the most advanced pharmaceuticals that are necessary to save our people from basic, basic conditions from cancer, diabetes, heart condition, all of the various things. Regrettably, we have not developed the production capacity nor indeed the logistics supply for these medicines and our people therefore are deprived of them. I look forward to see how we can improve that and we have already occasioned a paper that we are working with the WTO on to see how we can have a South-South alliance for pharmaceutical production with an opt-in approach that does not in any way offend the rules of the World Trade Organization because we must create opportunities for our people if we are going to allow them to be able to live their best lives without having to suffer purely because they were born in the wrong part of the world. We will also be interested as I said with the intention for us to have port expansion in efficient and competitive port management, regional connectivity and indeed how do we promote responsible business conduct for decent work in supply chains. I look forward to the Director General of the International Labor Organization joining us tomorrow for the balance of this forum and you should know that my country is committed as a country who knows what it is. To have labor see the worst of humanity for centuries, to be able to allow labor to see the best of humanity when we have no control of our own destiny. Against that backdrop, we passed earlier this year in our parliament a Labor Clauses Act that ties the issuance of incentives and concessions to decent work because if we allow people to believe that they can make profits on the backs of the exploitation of people, we are no different from those who sought to exploit them two, three, four centuries ago. My friends, I am heartened that you are here and I ask simply that you help me remind all of our citizens that it is meetings like this that will help to allow them to understand how we can control the price of a tin of corned beef going up in ways that makes it unaffordable for them to feed their children or how we can afford to be able to ensure that we get the supply chain that allows the company that is employing them to continue to employ them because we have delivered the products that they need in time for them to do their job and to export it back. These things are vital and if you live in a small island, you know that there are many things that you do not produce and therefore without a functioning global trading system that is fair and without a recognition that the logistics will impact that trading system and without an understanding that it cannot be on the basis of volume alone or might alone, that there has to be a willingness to take the scales off of our eyes and to see and appreciate the reality of many of us. It's not just in the Caribbean, there are small island states in the Indian Ocean. There are small island states in the Pacific, and regrettably, we ask for this engagement at the very time that regrettably we are on the front lane of the climate crisis. We are on the front lane of a debt crisis. We are on the front lane of a geopolitical crisis. Now, if you were a fearful person, you would run and hide, but we don't have that luxury. We have to confront our realities, and we have to make the best that we can with them. I believe that this forum this week will expand the policy options that governments can have, that companies can look to, and that we can all together collectively do in order to make sure that the very basic objective of making lives livable and affordable, not just for those who have a lot or who want a lot, but for all people, because it is not ours to determine who should have and who shouldn't, but it is ours to ensure that there is fairness and equity available to every single human being on this earth. It sounds idealistic, but I prefer to sound idealistic rather than the harbingers of war who continue to pursue it in defense of greed and profit that one day will mean that the world as we know it will not exist because that crude and covetous behavior will lead ultimately to the decimation of the planet and to the destruction of people. I know there's a better way. I hope that you too appreciate it and that collectively we can plot our way step by step, forum by forum, to that better way for the people whom we represent. Thank you.

Belle Holder:
Ladies and gentlemen, Prime Minister of Barbados, the Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, and if I'd kindly ask all three ladies to please stand for an official photograph. Thank you. Thank you ladies. Ladies and gentlemen, once again, Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley,Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, and Rebeca Grynspan, UNCTAD Secretary General. A round of applause, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you.


Amina J. Mohammed

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155 words per minute

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380 secs


Belle Holder

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94 words per minute

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698 words

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443 secs


Mia Amor Mottley

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Rebeca Grynspan

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925 secs