Republic Financial Holdings, Caribbean Export sign agreement

Port Of Spain –  The Trinidad-based Republic Financial Holdings Ltd (RFHL) has signed a partnership agreement with the Barbados-based Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA) that will benefit small medium enterprises (SME) with the intention of increasing export potential and capacity.

“The development of export markets has always been an important aspect of this region’s growth. But it has become even more important over the last two years as we all experienced COVID-19 and its fallouts. We recognised because of it, the high risks posed by our dependency on one product or sector,” said RHFL president and chief executive officer, Nigel Baptiste.

He told a news conference that the partnership “signals the beginning of what we believe to be a very important partnership, not just for the group but for all our customers.

“A partnership like this is needed now more than ever as our inherently vulnerable Caribbean economies remain on the path to recovery,” he said, noting that capacity and training will lead to the elimination of technical barriers to trade that may have impeded the export readiness of some SMEs.

“The partnership can lead to a much needed diversification of our trade offerings as a country, especially if focus is placed on areas where we can have a competitive advantage,” Baptiste added.

CEDA’s manager, competitiveness and export promotion, Dr Damie Sammy, said that too many economies are focused on a narrow range of products and services which is not ideal.

He said CEDA, which recently completed its strategic plan, is focused on three main pillars one of which is export development and promotion, including the digitalisation of business.

“If this pandemic has taught us anything [it] is that we cannot utilise traditional brick and mortar business. We have to look at being more innovative,” Sammy said, adding that the plan also entails targeting foreign direct investment in the Caribbean as well as emphasis on services.

Through CEDA, corporate and commercial clients will gain knowledge and exposure through virtual and in-person training, mentoring and specialised workshops centred on topics such as cost and financial management, export marketing and facilitating trade in services.

CEDA is also conducting a Caribbean Investment Forum in Dubai, where Caribbean SMEs would be able to highlight products and services for export to new markets.

“The event is focused on attracting investment into the Caribbean. We are focused on a few main sectors – agriculture technology, renewable and green energy and hotel and resort development. We will have a number of projects that will be presented at the forum. Our local Caribbean Association of Business will promote a project that is focused on attracting investments in agri-technology in Trinidad and Tobago.” (CMC)

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