Another successful Saint Lucia-Taiwan trade show was hosted November 23–25, this time at the Golden Palm Events Centre in Rodney Heights, Gros Islet. It was the 11th anniversary of the exhibition, now one of Business Month’s most anticipated events. This year forty-four local and six Taiwanese entrepreneurs participated. Saint Lucian business owners exhibited a range of products, from handbags and liquor to everything in between. Isaiah Charles, who produces and sells candles, soaps and an array of candies, told the STAR: “The trade show does help put your business out there.”
His company, Saint Lucia Novelty Candles and Soaps, is over ten years old and came about while he was studying abroad. “Sometimes it feels like Saint Lucians don’t appreciate craft makers and locally manufactured products,” he lamented, “but that is gradually changing.”
HYRead ebook, a Taiwan-based company, came to Saint Lucia for the first time to participate in the trade show. Like many of the Taiwanese companies that undertake the nearly 30 hours of flying to get here, HYRead ebook is not all about sales. The group also provides opportunities for Saint Lucians. In the telling of senior manager Yi-Hsin Ma: “We’ve partnered with almost four hundred Saint Lucian writers. Their ebooks will now be part of our global database where they can sell internationally.”
Taiwanese Ambassador to Saint Lucia, Douglas C.T Shen offered this review of the exhibition: “I think the trade show has become the showcase of the relationship between Taiwan and Saint Lucian businesses. Prime Minister Allen Chastanet always encourages trade investment in Saint Lucia and I think the business people from Taiwan are not only bringing products, they’re also looking for business opportunities in Saint Lucia. Two years ago we had a trade show partner: OECC (Overseas Engineering & Construction Corp.). This company is now going to be responsible for terminal construction at the Hewanorra Airport. They are also accepting invitations by the Saint Lucian government to do the island-wide road rehabilitation.”
Ambassador Shen explained that before Taiwanese companies are approved to take part in the trade show, officials from the Saint Lucia-based Taiwanese Embassy will relay to specialists in Taiwan the needs of Saint Lucia. “We will let Taipei know what the people need here in Saint Lucia. For example, on this island we need ICT (Information and Communication Technology) products. So Taipei will take the advice and choose the right businesses and then send them to Saint Lucia to join the trade show.”
Shen added: “For my embassy this trade show is very meaningful, having prepared for it alongside the Ministry of Commerce for the last few years. They try to let Saint Lucians know we have a very good relationship and show them the best products from Taiwan and Saint Lucia.” Both governments and their commerce sectors are already looking forward to next year’s trade show as they consider ideas on how they can grow and redefine the event. To be included, local business owners should register with the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs.