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Contact: Rose Marie Harris

Wednesday, April 03, 2002 - As the Caribbean continues to grapple with major dislocations experienced in the last year and a half, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are seeking to forge greater bonds and explore ways to institute strategies to strengthen their respective capacities.

During the opening of a three day meeting of Caribbean Business Entrepreneurs, organisations and agencies on Wednesday April 03, 2002, Permanent Secretary in St. Lucia’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Consumer Affairs Cosmos Richardson, explained that the meeting should be seen as developing a collective response to the challenges now facing the Caribbean.

“This meeting of Caribbean small business entrepreneurs, organisations and businesses is timely coming as it does at a time when economies of the Caribbean states are under intense pressure from international circumstances. We have an opportunity here to craft a response that is based on our capacity as Caribbean people to use our initiative, our creativity and our entreprenship to propel the region through this difficult period,” Richardson said.

Director of the Sub Regional Headquarters for the Caribbean Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Dr. Len Ishmael noted that “with a few notable exceptions such as Trinidad and Tobago” the past eighteen months was a particularly difficult period for small and medium business organisations in the region. “It was with some finality that the sobering reality of the end of the era of preferential access to the European Market hit home… With few exceptions, economic performance in the year 2000 was not half as robust as had obtained previously,” he said.

During the three day workshop participants will discuss, among other things, the criteria used for lending and financing of SME’s, a new economic model for small and medium manufacturing enterprises in Latin America and the Caribbean, and joint negotiating strategies for marketing and purchasing.


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