The Specialty Caribbean Expo opened Thursday, at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium.
The Expo showcases the products and services of over 50 small and medium sized businesses from across the OECS.
The four-day exhibition is being held under the theme: “A Unique Buying Experience,” and features high quality, innovative products and services of the region.
The Specialty Caribbean Expo is hosted by the Trade Export Promotion Agency (TEPA) in collaboration with the OECS Commission, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Investment, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs, and other partners.
Jacqueline Emmanuel-Flood is the Chief Executive Officer of the Trade Export Promotion Agency (TEPA). During her address at Thursday’s official opening, she remarked that this event is a major milestone for this fairly new agency.
“Indeed, we are one of the youngest trade promotion agencies in the Caribbean,” she said. “This is our second trade expo, and we believe that we exemplify the posture that we advocate to our clients as they seek to carve out their own niche in a very competitive global market.”
Specialty Caribbean Expo provides the platform for networking among exhibitors, importers, buyers, distributors, wholesalers and relevant trade agencies in search of new products and services.
Adding to the theme was Invest Saint Lucia’s representative Natasha Edwin-Walcott, who noted the timeliness of this initiative.
“Much has been touted about the multilateral trading system and whether there are benefits for small vulnerable economies like ours, where our participation in world merchandise trade is less than 1 per cent. At a time when the Saint Lucian economy, and that of its neighbours experience persistent challenges, even after the worst effects of the financial crisis have been overcome, two things come to mind, on advancing the economy: One, is to increase our exports of goods and services: and secondly, to increase our inflows of Foreign Direct Investment.”
“For Invest Saint Lucia, as the country’s investment promotion agency, charged with promoting, stimulating and facilitating investment in targeted sectors such as manufacturing, tourism and infrastructure, becoming a partner on this ‘Brand Saint Lucia’ initiative was never in question as the trade and investment nexus cannot be over-emphasised.”
The event was officially opened with a ribbon cutting, performed by Prime Minister Hon. Allen Chastanet, who said the Specialty Caribbean Expo is a clear signal of Saint Lucia’s recognition of the importance of networking, as a means of capitalizing on various opportunities.
“This is a great event and an opportunity for us to strengthen our economic ties. I want to emphasize a critical component. If we are to going to be competitive in the world we must learn to do so without trade agreements. We must do so by doing things differently, and by having products that are unique and desirable. But it means that we have to focus on the business of what we are doing, and we must understand where the weaknesses are and what we have to do to turn those things around.”
The Specialty Caribbean Expo runs until March 12, and will feature an entertainment segment of music and fashion.