Sector Director, Mrs. Vanessa Toré MBA
UNLEASHING THE EXPORT POTENTIAL IS JUST THE BEGINNING
The third week of May has been proclaimed by the Government of Curaçao as the week when the island dedicates attention to the awareness and possibilities of export. With the introduction of the National Export Awareness Week as the kick-off of the process of developing a National Export Strategy, the government has taken the lead in developing the desired export vision and guiding the island in that direction.
For Vanessa Toré, Director of the division in charge of foreign trade policy and the engine behind the export development activities, the National Export Awareness week is just the beginning.
The majority of countries engage in international trade and encourage exporting as one of the economic drivers stimulating foreign exchange inflow, jobs and innovation. In that sense Curaçao is not an exception. On the contrary, for more than a century the island has depended heavily on the exportation of oil products, international financial services and tourism.
Besides that, there are several other international business activities. By launching the international trade agenda, the Minister of Economic Development Dr. Steven Martina is showing the way to go. Vanessa Toré explains that Curaçao’s first National Export
Awareness Week was dedicated to knowledge sharing about exporting possibilities and involving public participation. During the different activities, the government and the invited experts communicated with the business sector and the population as a whole about the exporting possibilities, the plans that the government has and the progress that it is making with the export strategy.
As Mrs. Toré says, “This creates awareness and commitment of everyone involved”. The Ministry of Economic Development (MED) prepared several presentations, workshops and masterclasses. As said before, the idea was to get popular support therefore not only the business sector, but all interested parties were invited to participate at the various activities. The Ministry approached Mr. Anton Said, Head of Trade Development Strategy at the International Trade Centre in Geneva to guide the process of creating Curaçao’s National Export Strategy. A process that is expected to take aprroximately 3 years to accomplish. According to Toré, this entails crafting a system to identify the export potential of the island, indicate how it should be developed and when. Another element of that process is to identify the most promising potential export target markets and to design the export promotion strategy.
During the first National Export Awareness Week MED launched its new services especially dedicated to export development such as export financing possibilities, export support coaching, support with market research and research and development to create new products or adapt or improve existing local products for international markets. For this purpose, MED achieved the
support of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (In dutch RVO). Several representatives of RVO were present during the activities to introduce these services and explain how companies established in Curaçao can make use of them. The Ministry realizes that Curaçao cannot develop international business while living in a bubble. It is therefore important to exchange information and knowledge with other countries. The first National Export Awareness week included thus presentations from experts from Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom, Domincan Republic, Zwitserland, Colombia and the Netherlands, besides the local experts. Toré explains that during the next five years the government will be promoting export actively. While preparing the national export strategy, the division of Foreign Economic Cooperation of the MED will continue to organize trade missions to open up new markets for our businesses.
The activities to get to bilateral trade agreements with other countries will also continue. The focus is primarily on the CARICOM countries, the Dominican Republic and Colombia. Furthermore, the MED will follow up on the efforts to get an independent membership at the World Trade Organization, and of course it will follow through with incentives for local exporters, training, awareness creation and other support services.