(Statement by Bradly Felix, Minister for Commerce, International Trade, Investment, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs, following an official visit to Taiwan where he led a delegation comprising representatives of Saint Lucia’s private sector)
The Government of Saint Lucia, since resuming diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) in 2007, has enjoyed strong ties with this country. This has resulted in the provision of technical assistance in many areas, including cooperation in addressing the deadly Black Sigatoka disease which affected our vital banana industry; introduction of new varieties of crops; and the establishment of a plant propagation facility at Union Agricultural Station; among others in the agriculture sector.
We have seen the establishment of cooperation in a number of other areas, including health, the Constituency Development Programme (CDP), direct budgetary support for a number of public projects, and support in the hosting of what is now an annual event — the Saint Lucia/Taiwan Trade Exhibition, which will be observed this weekend for the tenth consecutive year.
These areas of cooperation and assistance have been of tremendous assistance to the Government and people of Saint Lucia. However, we believe that the true test of a lasting friendship between two market-driven economies is exemplified when the private sectors of both countries can engage freely in trade and investment activity. For this reason, this administration, in particular, has been focused on engaging at the private sector level between the two countries.
Hence, following the first official visit to Taiwan by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet during the week of November 6, 2017, the path was cleared for Saint Lucia’s private sector to engage in a direct and serious manner with the private sector of Taiwan.
As a result, during the period November 14-18, 2017, a delegation comprising eight members of the private sector of Saint Lucia headed by myself and accompanied by my Permanent Secretary, visited Taiwan and engaged with that country’s private sector.
From all accounts, the visit was a success. New opportunities for sourcing raw materials, packaging materials and joint venture arrangements were discussed and in some cases finalized. New understanding has been gained in terms of how business is conducted in Taiwan and we believe that another window of opportunity has been opened for Saint Lucia to trade and invest.
A memorandum of understanding will be signed in the days ahead between the Association of Small and Medium Enterprise of Taiwan and Saint Lucia’s Chamber of Commerce, paving the way for deeper collaboration directly between the private sectors of both countries.
The representatives of the Saint Lucia Manufacturers Association and Saint Lucia Industrial and Small Business Association are now in a better position to share information on business opportunities between Saint Lucia and Taiwan.
In short, we believe this visit will mark the commencement of a special set of arrangements between the private sectors of both our countries which will not require any significant Government involvement. The private sector will be free to interact and do what they best know how to do, that is the creation of wealth.
Let me place on record my sincere thanks to the Ambassador of Taiwan to Saint Lucia, His Excellency Douglas Cheng, and his staff for their tremendous efforts in making this visit possible as well as Saint Lucia’s Ambassador in Taiwan, His Excellency Hubert Emmanuel, for his untiring efforts in seeing this visit through. We believe the months and years ahead will reveal the fruits of what have been planted over the last week in Taiwan.
I thank you.