On November 21, 2017 the Department of Commerce, International Trade, Investment, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs held a two-part press briefing to first relay expectations for the then upcoming Saint Lucia Taiwan Partnership Trade Show and then to update the public on a recent ‘Business Mission’ to the Republic of China (Taiwan) undertaken by the Minister and a small delegation of private sector representatives.
Minister Edward Tao and First Secretary Louis Liu from the Taiwanese Embassy, along with the Commerce Department’s Permanent Secretary Titus Preville and Marketing Specialist Cindy Eugene, addressed the media, beaming with enthusiam for the upcoming Trade Show scheduled from Friday November 24 to Sunday 26.
The body strongly believes that the Trade Show’s past success and increased ‘expansion and extension’ directly led to this year’s – its 10th anniversary – record-breaking achievement: a total of 66 local Saint Lucian businesses and seven Taiwanese companies, a significant increase from the two which participated last year, will be showcasing their products and services at the event. According to the permanent secretary the intention of the trade show is to “expose Saint Lucian goods and services to the Saint Lucian market and to regional buyers who visit [as well as] to expose Taiwanese business persons to Saint Lucia and the region’s markets”.
Minister Tao, on the noteworthy increase in participating Taiwanese companies said, “More and more Taiwanese companies are actually interested in the Saint Lucian market,” and that they will be bringing in products like adjustable cushions, pillows, cosmetics, kitchen appliances, sports wear, computer products and other electronics to be displayed and sold during the Trade Show. The event is also expected to expose Saint Lucia to Taiwan’s culture via a food festival, movie screening, karaoke competition, fashion show and presentation of traditional Taiwanese dance put on by local artists and students.
Part two of the press briefing featured addresses from the Minister of Commerce, International Trade, Investment and Consumer Affairs Bradley Felix, Executuve Director of the Chamber of Commerce Brian Louisy, President of the Manufacturers Association Mr Richard Duboulay and representative of the Saint Lucia Industrial and Small Business Association (SLISBA) Ms Paula Calderon, all of whom visited Taiwan from November 14 to 18. According to the Minister, the visit provided new opportunities for “sourcing raw materials, packaging materials and discussing joint venture arrangements which were in some cases finalized”. He also mentioned the upcoming signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Association of Small and Medium Enterprise of Taiwan, and Saint Lucia’s Chamber of Commerce, which the delegation hopes will foster successful operation between both countries.
Mr. Duboulay, after expressing his gratitude to the Ministry for inviting the Manufacturers Association on the trip, expressed the hope of lessening the burden of limited resources in Saint Lucia through business ventures with Taiwanese companies. Members of the Association were pleased, he said, as they were exposed to areas where they can reduce their costs.
Duboulay also used his turn at the mic to highlight new opportunities like the signing of an agreement between the government of Taiwan and Saint Lucia “with regards to duty free access to locally produced Saint Lucian goods that can go to Taiwan”.
On behalf of SLISBA Ms Calderon emphasized the trip’s benefits for local companies as the team, while in Taiwan, met with owners of small businesses and members of the commercial sector, which allowed them to witness first-hand how co-ordination between the two yields successful results. “Here in Saint Lucia small businesses will have to start working together collectively to look at how they can meet economies of scale, so that they can both import and export to Taiwan,” Ms Calderon stated.
The visit to Taiwan appeared to have left the group with a strong sense of hope and eagerness to reap full benefits from Taiwan linkages. When asked about practicality, as Taiwan is some 9828.9 miles away, an example of one key benefit was cited: that if local Saint Lucian businesses come together, they can source goods and products as a collective, thus reducing costs.
Ms Calderon added, “I think that what the members will receive from this trip will certainly help them to be more successful, and they look forward to working with the Taiwanese in the future.” Aside from international and local joint ventures, she noted Taiwan’s creativity and appetite for risks as other attributes SLISBA would like to help Saint Lucian businesses emulate.