the dispute over fishing rights between Barbados and
Trinidad & Tobago was further intensified at the end of
2000, when two Barbados fishing boats were raided by the
Trinidad Coast Guard. Prime Minister Arthur threatened
Trinidad & Tobago with economic reprisals, declaring that he
would apply the Immigration Act to expel illegal immigrants
from Trinidad out of the country. At the same time, he
suggested that the agreements on flights for Trinidad's
national airline BWIA be revised. The episode took place
shortly after Arthur and Trinidad's Prime Minister Basdeo
Panday drafted a plan for fisheries negotiations. Barbados
exports to Trinidad fell from $ 39.5 million. US $ 1982 to $
30 million in 2000. In return, Trinidad had exported goods
and services to Barbados for $ 150 million. US $ in
1999.Taiwan, which then exported their fish to Barbados,
which was a Trinidadian product, thereby benefiting from the
favorable CARICOM trade agreements.
In 2001, Barbados passed a new investment law to attract
foreign companies. The law imposed a tax ceiling of 2.5% on
the highest interest rate, exemption from all other taxes
and duties on imports of production assets, exemption from
currency control, and a reduction of the tax base by 150% of
the research and development costs.
On 17-21. June 2001, Barbados hosted the Regional
Roundtable in preparation for the Global Sustainable
Development Summit to be held in Johannesburg in September
2002. The Roundtable aimed to gather views from all relevant
parties to evaluate Agenda 21, and prepare recommendations
for the Summit. in Johannesburg. Agenda 21 was formulated at
the Rio de Janeiro Summit in 1992 as a path to sustainable
development in each country.
In the May 2003 elections, the Labor Party (BLP) got 23
of the 30 seats in parliament, and Owen Arthur could thus
continue in the Prime Minister's post. The election campaign
was mostly about reducing income tax and creating new jobs.
Barbados has one of the highest levels of income tax in the
Caribbean. The government had already prepared in 2002 a
plan for how the tax could be reduced by a quarter to 22.5%,
and the plan was to further reduce it to 20% in 2004.
Unemployment rose from 9.9% to 10.9 in 2001, 3%. This was
due to both the economic crisis in the Western world and the
decline in tourism after September 11, 2001. The opposition
also blamed the government for poor administration of tax
revenue and, in particular, excessive spending on interest
and repayments on hotel debt.