International Trade ministry workshop helps local SMEs with export plans


BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – The Ministry of International Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, in collaboration with the Caribbean Export Development Agency and the St. Kitts Nevis Coalition of Service Industries (SKNCSI), is holding a three-day “Services Go Global In Country Training Workshop” to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with the development of export plans, which will enable them to enter nondomestic markets.

According to Trade Policy Officer Desiree Huggins, the activity is especially geared toward entrepreneurs in the service industry with the potential to export their services. “With the advent of trade agreements such as the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), entrepreneurs must be prepared to take advantage of the avenues afforded to them via these agreements as services play an instrumental role in ensuring the smooth running of the economy,” Huggins said. She added that service industries are “a major source of innovation and provide central infrastructure to trading goods. They are critical to improving economies of developing economies such as St. Kitts and Nevis.”

Huggins mentioned that services firms in developing countries may not be adequately organized to communicate their industry trade negotiating and export market interest to public officials. She added that these firms may only have “sector specific associations and lack an umbrella group that draws them together,” she said. “This is where I must highlight the importance of the SKNCSI. The coalition is able to work with the government to identify market access priorities in trade negotiations regionally and internationally, as well as contribute to a domestic agenda that strengthens services trade and export opportunities.”

The trade policy officer noted that Caribbean Export and the Ministry of International Trade understand the significance of their agreement and recognize their role in ensuring their service providers are equipped to compete on not only a national level, but in regional and international markets. “Thus, the ministry gladly welcomes yet another opportunity to partner with Caribbean Export to deliver a training programme of this nature,” said Huggins.

The training July 10-12 workshop is being facilitated by members of the SKNCSI, Tamu Petra Browne and Telly Onu, who participated in the “Services Go Global Train the Trainers” workshop in Barbados June 10-12.

According to Jasmine Weekes, permanent secretary in the Ministry of International Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, the main objectives of the train-the-trainers workshop was “to build training capacity in the region through a cohort of trainers who will work through the territory’s Coalition of Services Industries, not only to train export-ready SMEs, but to also assist them with the development of export plans to enter nondomestic markets and to begin the first step in the Services Go Global training certification process.”