Castries, Saint Lucia, December 07, 2015: The Saint Lucia Trade Export Promotion Agency (TEPA) and the Saint Lucia Coalition of Service Industries (SLCSI) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). TEPA hails the signing as ‘very strategic’ to the effective delivery of its mandate which is to promote exports of goods and services. Signed on Wednesday December 02, the MOU serves to further cement the collaborative relationship between the two business facilitation agencies. Specifically, it will allow TEPA and the SLCSI to map out a joint action plan that enables them to leverage synergies and be more targeted in the design and execution of programs, and the pursuit of opportunities.
The Coalition of Service Industries is the agency working to organize service producers on the island, and has some thirteen Service sector groupings under its’ umbrella, inclusive of management and travel consultants, engineers, ICT, health and wellness, architects, creative producers, realtors, garage proprietors, car rental, florists and bankers. TEPA CEO Jacqueline Emmanuel Flood says this extensive reach within the Services sector makes the agencies “natural partners,” and provides the rationale for SLCSI’s seat on the National Export Council which is the oversight body for TEPA.
“Now we are taking this now at the practical level, where we are actually working now to fuse to integrate better in terms of our projects and programs on the ground”, explains Mrs. Flood.
Yvonne Agard, Executive Director of the Saint Lucia Coalition of Services describes the formalization of the MOU as timely, coming on the heels of the SLCSI approval for funding under the CSME Standby Facility administered through the Caribbean Development Bank. The funding will allow the agency to undertake three sets of initiatives, namely a business support unit to provide technical support to service providers with the potential to export, a call-down facility that enables the agency to provide direct funding assistance to firms, while the third component is for institutional strengthening. “So we are getting a project officer and intern assigned to this program area. One of the areas in which this will also be achieved is in SLCSI’s ability to interpret trade policy into opportunity for Service providers”.
The MOU equips the SLCSI to play a more integral role in the implementation of the joint various action plans aimed at deepening of trade between Saint Lucia and other regional and international markets. These action plans are a direct result of similar agreements formalized between TEPA and PRO Cuba- the trade promotion agency of Cuba, and the trade facilitation office of Canada (TFO). The drafting of yet another MOU between TEPA and the Barbados Industrial Development Corporation (BIDC) is also currently in progress.
TEPA’s CEO indicated that going forward, the agency proposes to use the MOU mechanism with other agencies, because it is a results-oriented framework that “clearly sets the parameters for collaboration on a number of specific actions, is extremely effective, extremely focused and there is always a result at the end”.