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No Big Mac

By Carol Martindale, Barbados Nation, Sunday 12 March 2000

The door has been closed yet again on McDonalds, the United States fast food giant.

Cabinet recently rejected the latest application submitted by T-Bone Investments to open the fast food restaurant here. T-Bone had hoped to open an outlet in Bridgetown this year.

A top-level Government official told the SUNDAY SUN yesterday there were a number of factors which influenced the decision, most important of which were the objections from the Barbados Workers' Union (BWU) and the ongoing World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations on trading services.

"It was necessary for us to consider the strength of the objectors to McDonalds coming here," the official said, adding that some of the main objections came from the BWU and Chefette Restaurants.

Representing member's views

"The BWU would have had to represent the views of its members, who, after they were laid off in the early 1990s, went into the food business. There were, therefore, concerns about the dominant market position of McDonalds and how it could hurt the business of these persons."

The official also said Government had to consider the liberalisation of the services market which was still being discussed at the WTO.

"If developed countries want the liberalisation of the fast food market or any area of services, countries like Barbados will have to consider what we will be getting in return when we open our markets. Therefore, we have to look to strengthen our position in light of all this.

"It does not make sense for us to make decisions before the conclusion of WTO negotiations on trading services. We want to have something to put on the table to guarantee our own existence," explained the source, who estimated there could be a two-year period before decisions were finalised.

It was the second attempt by T-Bone Investments to introduce McDonalds into Barbados, the first being lodged in 1997.