The Foreign Trade Agenda in 2018 and outlook for 2019
In 2018 the Foreign Trade Development division of the Ministry of Economic Development, (BEB) continued implementing its foreign trade development agenda. The dynamic Director Vanessa Toré is the official responsible for pushing this ambitious agenda.
She is confident that this policy will provide the desired results to encourage the sustainable economic development of Curaçao and explains that 2018 has laid the foundation for exciting new opportunities.
BEB started this program 1.5 years ago during a period that the local economy was not going through its best moments. Toré saw this as a challenge. Consequently, the main objective of the agenda is to create opportunities and stimulate the economy. In the meanwhile, several results have been realized.
While the base has been set for projects that will bear fruit in the near future, others require a longer start-up phase. According to Toré, “2018 was still a year of preparation and putting the several parts of the economic recovery plan in place”. Under the leadership of the Minister of Economic Development dr. Steven Martina and his team a robust plan for economic recovery has been elaborated.
As its effects become evident it creates enthusiasm among the local businesses. The most noticeable first results are in the tourism sector. Toré emphasizes the importance of continuity and consistency in the foreign trade agenda. She is a strong advocate for export development of local products and services. “Innovation and sustainability are key drivers if we want to be successful in the international market and make good use of opportunities” Tore says.
Export development typically requires an adequate infrastructure for production and logistics. Appropriate trade agreements with the identified trading partners and aggressive international marketing are other aspects that need attention. Due to the onset of the economic recovery plan in 2018, this year is expected to mark the turning point. The MEO will continue to negotiate trade agreements with the identified potential trading countries and will revive the export awareness and export development among Curaçao’s businesses. The expected growth and its positive effects must reach the people of Curaçao. For that reason, the MEO has started an important project for workforce planning and development aimed at pushing the necessary matching of labor and employment. The foreign trade agenda furthermore includes, organization of inbound and outbound trade missions, preparation of the membership of the World Trade Organization by the Permanent Committee to prepare Curaçao’s WTO membership, information to the stakeholders, Investment projects, improvement of legislation and incentives, such as the adaptation of the export profit legislation.
But also, the organization of training courses and workshops for export coaches and export sales improvement. Introduction of the foreign trade incentives program of the Netherlands for local businesses and the organization of relevant conferences, among others about Intellectual Property rights and adaptation of the export profit legislation. In short, there are too many to mention them all. The point is that with the proper leadership and consistency, but above all, with the inclusion and collaboration of all the stake holders. Considering all these initiatives and projects, the MEO projects a positive change this year. This forecast is supported by Curaçao’s Central Bank that calculates a growth of 0.4%. Hard work and consistency will define Curacao’s economic recovery in 2019. The restart of the Isla Oil refinery is expected to sign the decisive moment.