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Coalition of Services Industries to have positive impact

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Contact: Chris Satney

Thursday, March 03, 2005 - Stakeholders of a recently formed Coalition of Services Industries in St. Lucia will get an opportunity on the weekend to learn more about the work of the organization and discuss its future importance to the services sector on the island and the wider region.

The exercise, to take place at the NIC Conference Centre on Saturday, March 5th, 2005 is being conducted ahead of the official launch of the organization, slated for sometime in April of this year.

The event will help sensitize stakeholders to the issues and purpose of the organization, in anticipation of some of the challenges that professionals and organizations providing services will have to face, because of St. Lucia’s association with various trading arrangements, such as the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

It has taken two years of consultations between government, the OECS Trade Policy Project and the Chamber of Commerce to bring the coalition to this point. An interim board was set up in November of 2004, to put in place the institutional and legal structures necessary for the establishment of the organization.

Interim President of the St. Lucia Coalition of Services Industries, Althea Valmont said, “The coalition of services is an organization, which focuses on meeting some of those challenges and informing those who may be affected by these changes of ways of meeting these challenges.”

According to Foreign Service Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Stephen Fevriere, the services sector in St. Lucia contribute significantly to the overall gross domestic product (GDP), and therefore it has been recognized that it is important for the sector to organize itself to more effectively feed into governmental policy.

“It is very important that at this time, the services sector appreciate the importance of what is happening multilaterally and can use this forum to create and affect policy, which will be beneficial to their interest, and help feed these policies into government policy; that is one component. The other component is at the national level, assisting the services providers in enhancing their service capacity to compete,” Mr. Fevriere explained.

CARICOM Council of Trade and Economic Development (COTED) at a meeting in 2001, agreed to the formation of national coalitions of Services Industries in each member state of the Community. To date, only Barbados and St. Lucia have established coalitions.

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