The OECS-CBU and TEPA hosted a Regional Seminar on the Fashion and Garment Industry and Economic Development in the Caribbean in Saint Lucia on July 1st and 2nd, 2015
The two-day event which was jointly sponsored by the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA), the OECS Commission and the Trade Export Promotion Agency (TEPA) of Saint Lucia, brought together representatives of governmental focal points for small and medium-sized enterprises from SELA Member States, representatives from SMEs, business associations, and fashion industry experts from the region.
The seminar addressed a wide range of issues including public policy imperatives, education and training, financing options, online marketing for fashion and garment products, and “Positioning the Caribbean to Win: Penetrating the International Fashion Market”.
One of the highlights of the Seminar was a presentation on the recent findings of an Assessment Exercise of the Fashion industry in OECS Member States undertaken as part of the private sector component of the 10th European Union Development Fund Regional Integration and Trade for the OECS Programme. It identified the main findings from the assessment exercise, pointed to key recommendations for action in support of SMEs in the OECS and work on modalities for building national and regional networks for SMEs and Business Support Organizations in the fashion industry.
The textile industry is one of the largest and most active sectors in the global economy. The sector was valued at over US$1.7 trillion in 2012, employing about 75 million people worldwide. In the Caribbean region whilst the sector has seen declines in the last few decades, efforts are currently underway in several countries including those of the OECS Economic Union to reposition the sector to take advantage of growing global market share. With the support of regional agencies like SELA and the OECS Commission through its Competitive Business Unit (CBU) new efforts are being made to promote the development of a fashion industry, and develope strategies for the use and adoption of sectoral approaches to position the sector create partnerships and design an identity for selling brands.
The OECS through the CBU is leading the regional agenda and is expected through resources available under the 10th European Development Fund Regional Integration for Trade in the OECS Programme to deliver direct support to some of the leading export ready SMEs and embark on a cluster development programme to enhance the competitiveness of enterprises in the region.