Ministry of International Trade offers guidance on tapping into other markets

(SKNIS): The Ministry of International Trade is the government ministry tasked with providing information to goods and service providers on how to tap into the regional and European markets, among its diverse roles.

This is according to Jasemin Weekes, Director of Trade/Research in the Ministry of International Trade, Industry Commerce and Consumer Affairs. She outlined that individuals can come into the ministry to become enlightened.

“I want to urge our artistes, even all those persons who provide a service, our business persons, to make sure that you gain as much information as you can,” she said. “We are here at the Ministry of International Trade to provide that information and we have knowledge and expertise in this area. We work closely with the private sector and I want to reach out to all those persons who have a question to ask about the CSME (Caricom Single Market and Economy) the EU-EPA (European Union-Economic Parnership Agreement), that we have the EU (European Union) and even our work in the region.”

The Ministry of International Trade is also currently conducting a two-day training session in collaboration with CARICOM Single Market and Economy, targeted at private sector businesses and entitled “The Free Movement Regimes of the Caribbean Community.”

Mrs. Weekes elaborated that while there is already ease of movement within the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the CARICOM region offers greater opportunity.

“It is important that although there is the ease of getting to the OECS with just a driver’s license, for example, we also must explore the other opportunities of working in the CARICOM region,” the Director of Trade/Research said. “I must add too, not only in the CARICOM region for we have a relationship with the EU. Our artistes, our musicians, they have access to the EU market to perform. And we would want to reach out to them and extend our invitation for them to register. I think the Ministry of Culture is working on getting a register.”

This reference was to the Department of Culture’s St. Kitts and Nevis Creative Industry Registry which was launched in May 2013 and is being continuously expanded. It is designed particularly for national artistes in the creative and cultural industries. The Department of Culture also works with the Caribbean Association of National Training Agencies (CANTA) which provides skills training, qualification and competency certification at the level of international standards.

Mrs. Weekes affirmed that there are various misconceptions pertaining to free movement.

“There is this perceived fear that we are going to be displaced, because persons are coming in the region and taking out jobs,” she said. “It’s a misplaced fear because the opportunities are there and it’s a reciprocal arrangement.”

“We can move and it may not necessarily be for permanence because an accountant can move through the region to provide a service, do some consultancy for example,” Mrs. Weekes said. “Persons in IT (Information Technology) can stay from their computer and provide a service. So we talk about movement of people, movement of goods, rights of establishment. You can establish a business in another territory while still working here, you can send a manager, have employees – these are things that people need to be sensitized about.”

The CSME lecture entitled “Public Sensitization on the CARICOM Skills Certificate,” takes place this evening (March 10) at the University of the West Indies Open Campus from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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