The National Export Strategy for Curaçao is progressing despite Covid-19.
Despite the constraints related to the Covid-19 Pandemic which made it difficult to travel and to have physical consultations in Curacao, we still progressed and are thankful to the more than 100 persons from the Public and Private Sector that participated online in the various consultations and interviews to give input for the development of the National Export Strategy for Curaçao.
Nine strategy teams were set up – one for each priority sector and function in the NES, except tourism. Curaçao opts for a full-scale National Tourism Export Strategy. Covid-19 has proven the vulnerability of the sector and the Government wants to make the sector more resilient.
One consultation has been held with all nine teams, along with a number of one-on-one discussions with the team leaders. Progress with the various strategy teams has been hampered primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has removed the possibility of travel and holding in-person consultations with stakeholders. Online is not the same as in person, so hopefully in 2021 we can go back to the in person consultations and move the process much further. But in the meanwhile we will continue working. In January 2021 the Curaçao Export Council will be launched.
Curaçao Export Council
The Curaçao Export Council (CEC) is an independent council tasked with supporting the implementation of the NES. It provides the leadership and the coordination necessary to implement the strategy. The Curaçao Export Council acts in an advisory capacity to the Cabinet of Ministers on matters relating to trade and competitiveness. The CEC has a number of critical roles, including:
1. Coordinating implementation of the NES by the government, private sector organizations or other implementing partners;
2. Identifying and recommending allocation of required resources;
3. Recommending to the Cabinet of Ministers policies that support the implementation of the NES;
4. Monitoring and measuring implementation to ensure that targets are being achieved, and taking corrective action where necessary;
5. Revising and updating the NES so that it continues to respond to the needs and long-term interests of the business community.
The CEC was established on June 22nd 2020, though a decree nr. 20/484. The CEC is composed of an equal number of public and private sector/civil society representatives. In effect, it brings together all those decision makers who have a bearing on international trade and competitiveness. It is chaired by the Minister of Economic Development. It meets on a frequent and regular basis. The CEC can set up ad hoc task forces or specialized subcommittees to assist it in its work.
About the National Export Strategy
Like many small islands in the region, Curaçao is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change and financial turbulence – and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Export Strategy identifies technology, in particular digital solutions, as a way to strengthen and link all economic activity in Curaçao.
To diversify the country, the National Export Strategy identifies six priority sectors that have the potential for high growth, adding value to exports and foreign exchange earnings. These sectors include:
• IT services
• education services
• port and maritime services
• creative industries
• financial services
These sectors are reinforced by trade support functions to benefit all firms and exporters within the economy, and include:
• trade information
• trade promotion
• trade facilitation
• skills and entrepreneurship
Crucially, the concept of ‘e-government for business’ underpins the entire framework. This means transitioning relevant government services to online platforms to make doing business easier and more efficient. The challenges the country now faces due to COVID-19 magnify its existing weaknesses. The National Export Strategy is well placed to tackle these weaknesses head-on and outlines a path for an economically diversified and resilient Curaçao. Specific and detailed sector and functional plans are being created in consultation with stakeholders that have a bearing on the future success of Curaçao’s export sector during the next stage.