Market entry…a challenge for regional service providers

Entering markets and winning businesses are proving to be the main challenges for service providers, who are trying to export, says Eugene Williams, Advisor, Services, Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA).
Williams explained that while service providers have market access through the various trade agreements such as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the challenge is really entering the markets and winning businesses.
“This is where the challenge has been for the last couple of years since signing the EPA. So market access is not the problem, but when it comes to market entry, it seems to be a stumbling block for service providers,” Williams said.
He noted that they have engaged several businesses in trade missions and export promotion platforms, where they had the opportunity of liaising with counterparts in Europe, Germany, Spain, etc., but no contracts have been forthcoming.
Williams was speaking at the Antigua and Barbuda Coalition of Service Industries, Inc. – SERVICES Go Global (SGG) Training Programme, with a focus on women in trade, on December 8 & 9 at the Kapok Hotel, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
ABCSI_TTCSI - SERVICES GO GLOBAL - WOMEN IN TRADE WORKSHOP 1Women entrepreneurs and service aspiring exporters in Antigua, were exposed to a two-day interactive and practical training programme designed to assist and expose them to the necessary skills that are needed to export their services successfully.
SGG, which was held in collaboration with Trinidad & Tobago Coalition of Service Industries, Inc. and sponsored by CEDA, is a regional export-readiness training programme- a roadmap – that takes the exporters through four stages and twelve modules of export preparation.
He explained that now is the time to push trade in services because services represent more than 2/3 of the world’s economy and approximately 25% of world trade, which is projected to be half of world trade by 2020. Williams added that services account for the majority of GDP in most countries globally, ranging from 40%-90%.
He said this is why SGG is so timely. Given the market entry challenges, Williams said there is a greater need to focus on market research and market intelligence, which SGG speaks to. He said this rigorous programme would not only assess their export readiness, but would result in the development of an export plan and strategy that would assist in securing contracts. It can also be used to approach local financial organisation for export funding, he added.
Williams said to further enhance the capacity of businesses in the areas of market research and intelligence; his Agency is establishing a Business Trade and Intelligence Unit with a web portal. This portal, which would be launched by the second quarter of 2016, allows Caribbean businesses to log on and access data on any company they wish to explore globally.
Carol Spencer, ABCSI’s Executive Board Member noted the timeliness of the event, given the present economic climate. She added that exporting services globally would stop the geographical restriction placed on local service providers and would help them to become more competitive internationally and generate foreign exchange.
Julianne Jarvis, Chair of the Caribbean Network of Coalitions of Services Industries, said SGG provides a platform to educate and advance women entrepreneurs in the region. She said, women across all sectors have been making tremendous strides and required that push to take them to the next level. Jarvis, who was also one of the presenters, advised all participants to learn more about the various trade agreements and to focus on entry into their markets of interest. She also identified some of the key service sectors the region is focusing on, which includes financial, ICT, education, health and wellness, tourism, culture and sports.
Dionne Chamberlain, Director, Belize Coalition of Service Providers noted that she believed that there must be a collaborative approach, where all stakeholders must be willing to hold hands and examine, as well as determine if the various trade agreements are working for the region’s benefit. Chamberlain one of the main presenters brought a lot of dynamism and hands-on experience to the programme.
Other industry experts who presented and brought a wealth of experience were Rabindra Jaggernauth, TTCSI’s Immediate Past President and Brenda Carrott, ABCSI’s Services Go Global Certified Trainer.
ABCSI’s first cohort for the Services Go Global Programme are: Pamela Arthurton, Marcella Andre, Lisa Abraham, Linisa George, Carol Spencer & Damara Phillips.

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