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Surviving Change: Competing Successfully in a Liberalised Environment PDF Print
Globalisation is the name of the game. At all corners of the world, barriers to trade in goods and services are tumbling at a rapid pace. Few countries, if any, can avoid being swept up in the current wave of trade liberalisation. Barbados is no exception, considering the island’s active membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Government’s current engagement in discussions to move forward the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSM&E) and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

Trade liberalisation presents both opportunities and challenges for domestic businesses. On one hand, businesses will find that they have enhanced access to export markets without the impediment of protectionist policies from foreign Governments. On the other hand, however, enhanced market access must be countered with the realisation that local enterprises will have to compete with foreign enterprises to maintain and expand their market shares. All is not lost, however, as competing successfully with foreign enterprises, although difficult, is not impossible.

A key manner in which local businesses can compete successfully vis-à-vis their foreign counterparts is by developing an ability to innovate and be creative. The most successful businesses in the world are those that have given particular attention to finding new ways of meeting consumer needs, while their competitors remained afraid to break away from the norm.

A successful challenge to foreign enterprises will be posed by local businesses that focus and specialise by enhancing strategic thinking and planning techniques and developing a marketing culture where customers’ needs always come first. Gone are the days when the consumer could be taken for granted. Today’s consumer has developed into a sophisticated being who will settle for nothing but the best.

Further, local businesses can be successful by creating value for their customers and engaging in higher value added activities. A business that simply manufactures and sells a physical good is likely to crumble against another that makes that same physical good only one part of a complete product.

To compete effectively businesses must pay greater attention to the research and development of their products and operations. Businesses are never too small to embrace greater research. Increased attention through the deliberate allocation of greater resources to research and product development will allow businesses to identify new methodologies, new markets, and improve the quality of their products and services.

Businesses must seek to undertake transactions that will increase their efficiency of operation. They must, if necessary, forge mergers, restructure and rationalise their operations in every effort to reduce operational costs, and increase productivity.

Through a combining of resources in a merger firms are able to reduce costs of communication, production, transaction, and transportation costs. Through the combining of expertise, businesses will also be able to obtain new technologies, increase output and improve product quality. Mergers and acquisitions are easily one of the quickest, cheapest and oftentimes the only means whereby firms can increase their efficiency in an effort to compete with more efficient firms given the lowering of trade barriers.

Businesses need not fear that competing aggressively will necessarily cause them to in breach of the law. Competition law is always geared towards the protection and promotion of the competitive process. The law always exempts and seeks to support practices directed towards increased efficiency. Activities that might be considered anti-competitive in principle will be exempted where they are aimed at the improvement of production, or distribution of goods and services.

If you have any query about fair competition, please contact the Commission at (421 2FTC, or 421 2832).

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