OECS entrepreneurs discuss follow-up on business mission to Martinique and Guadeloupe

Roseau, Dominica — The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Export Development Unit (EDU) is working along with entrepreneurs in the region on the next steps after undertaking a successful inaugural fact finding business mission to the French departments of Martinique and Guadeloupe from March 31 to April 4, 2014.

During the mission, the OECS firms visited several places of interest to their respective sectors, attended seminars on “doing business” in both countries, held one-on-one match-making or business-to-business meetings which served to bring the firms closer together to discuss trade relations, possibilities for joint ventures or co-production and collaboration in the various sectors as well as meetings with critical public and private sector entities and individuals in both countries.

The EDU expects the recent activity to be followed up with trade facilitation and sensitization programs undertaken in close collaboration with public and private sector counterparts from Martinique and Guadeloupe.

Head of the OECS EDU, Vincent Philbert, said the OECS business firms utilized the opportunities available to network and develop partnerships with firms in the two French speaking islands. He added that the business mission served primarily as a means to bridging the gap between firms in the sub-region and Martinique and Guadeloupe in a number of key economic sectors. Citing the global economic climate, Philbert welcomed the initiative as one that also intends to inspire increased economic activity and employment in the region.

The just ended mission comprised 27 private sector leaders from OECS member states in the manufacturing, creative industries, community-based tourism, renewable energy and professional services sectors and provided participating firms the opportunity to be exposed to operations of enterprises in their respective sectors, gain hands-on familiarity with European Union standards and best practices in business development and explore possibilities of joint ventures and exchanges between firms on both sides.

Coming out of the mission, participating firms have reported a better understanding of the standards required to gain entry into the French market as well as a greater awareness of opportunities available under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

The OECS EDU added that it is extremely pleased with the outcome of this mission, particularly with the opportunities it provided firms to network and build stronger ties with firms in the French islands. They acknowledged the support received from the Martinique Chamber of Commerce, the Regional Councils of both countries, and the Honorary Consuls of Dominica and St Lucia to Martinique. The Caribbean Export Agency also provided financial support for the historic business mission.

Philbert summarized the mission as a major first step in the efforts at building stronger trading links with the French Departments as well as to expose the region’s firms to best practices in the areas of economic and trade facilitation in these two major markets.

The OECS Export Development Unit sees such activities involving the French territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe as important pillars to bringing life to the business facilitation aspects of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) as these relate to expansion of trade in goods and services. EDU is of the view that continuous interaction of OECS actors to their EU counterparts next door is extremely important to efforts at expanding trade for the OECS private sector.

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