Entrepreneurs encouraged to take advantage of opportunities in reshaped global supply chains

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, March 6, 2023 (MMS-SKN) — The Department of Industry and Commerce, in the Federal Ministry of International Trade, Industry, Commerce, and Consumer Affairs, has stepped up efforts in empowering local entrepreneurs to take advantage of realignment in global supply chain management that has been occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic among others.

“So while Covid-19 is reshaping global supply chains, this crisis can also serve as a catalyst for change and presents an unprecedented opportunity for reform,” observed the Permanent Secretary Mrs Jasemin Weekes, when she addressed participants of a one-day Business Symposium held at the CUNA Conference Centre in West Basseterre, on Wednesday March 01.

The Business Symposium, whose proceedings were chaired by Coordinator, Trade and Business Development, Mr Irvine Daniel Jr. was held under the theme ‘Opportunities for Business Growth through better Supply Chain Management’. While there were over 40 participants at the CUNA Conference Centre, a few more participated virtually.

According to the Permanent Secretary, the Ministry would have seen at the international levels, large enterprises, who realising the fragility of their production processes are scrambling to rethink their operations. She noted that some are considering shortening the distances between production and assembly facilities, and bringing their manufacturing closer to their customers.

“As a Federation we must also play our part,” said Mrs Weekes. “I believe that our manufacturing strategy that was recently revised, can lend in shaping our reform process as it seeks to encourage innovation and competitiveness.”

The Business Symposium had a high-level Ministry of International Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs support, coming with the presence of  the Director of Industry and Commerce, Mrs Deidre Daniel-France, who also delivered closing remarks and tips on the way forward; Director of Consumer Affairs, Mr Paul Queeley; and Director of International Trade, Mr Sean Lawrence.

The participants were taken through three separate discussions, of which Panel 1 had four panellists, three who presented virtually and one was on the ground. Virtual panellists included Mr Fernando Garduno, GEP Worldwide (world’s leading supply chain consulting firm), who is based in Mexico City, Mexico. He made a presentation on trends and outlook for the global supply chain and also provided tips to deal with the challenges.

The second virtual presenter was Mr Justin Tapp, US Commercial Service, whose presentation was based on the role of the US commercial service, and the opportunities for St. Kitts and Nevis businesses to build relationships with US suppliers and markets.

He also gave information on upcoming two trade shows and discussed the possibility of St. Kitts and Nevis businesses taking part in those shows, singling out the Caribbean Business Conference (Miami) that will be held in the period September 6-8 this year, and will be hosted by the Florida District Export Council.

The third virtual presenter was Barbados-based Mrs Natasha Walcott of Caribbean Export, who presented on strategies for tools for Caribbean enterprises trading internationally.

In-house presenter, Ms Judy Edwards, Standards Officer at the St. Kitts and Nevis Bureau of Standards (SKNBS), advised the participants that partnership with the SKNBS is critical to every entrepreneur’s trade journey, noting that the Bureau of Standards is the partner that they will need for most of their journey.

One of the areas the SKNBS Standards Officer dwelt on was labelling of locally produced items and goods local entrepreneurs want to export to other countries. She strongly advised them to always check labelling requirements of the export country.

“It is the entrepreneur’s responsibility to know the labelling requirement of the foreign market that he or she wishes to export to,” Ms Edwards observed. “However, SKNBS can assist in your research. While SKNBS will not know the labelling requirements of all export markets, we can provide the basic requirements needed while we assist you in research.”

Making presentations at the second panel discussion were Mr Bernie Greaux of Tropical Shipping, Mr Earl Hodge and Mr Mark Pennyfeather of KDP Enterprises Inc., and Mr Sniderman Warner, of Woodsrite Enterprises. They presented on their products and services that could assist enterprises in moving their products in and out of St. Kitts and Nevis.

The final panel discussion, which dealt with Landing Procedures and Processes, had Mr Kevin Arthurton, of the Department of International Trade, who gave an overview of the global trade landscape, the major trade agreements that apply to St. Kitts and Nevis, and how they can impact the taxes paid at the border.

Ms Kersha Martin, of the Department of Customs and Excise, gave an overview of import taxes as well as tools available on the customs website that can help businesses in planning for taxes when importing goods, while the final panellist, Mrs Daniele Richards of the Department of Industry and Commerce presented on government incentives for enterprises.

In the meantime, one of the Business Symposium participants Ms Sara Ramirez, co-owner of Mother Becky Bush Tea, a local company which is based in Saddlers Village, St. Kitts, pointed out that the symposium allowed small business owners within the Federation to come together and share stories, share examples of things that have worked, things that haven’t worked so they can learn from each other’s trials and tribulations without having to reinvent the wheel.

“I want to commend the Ministry of International Trade, Industry, Commerce, and Consumer Affairs for doing it and I would encourage them to do it more often,” said Ms Ramirez. “I think that increased stakeholders engagement within the small business community by the Ministry will only create positive change going forward.”

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