The competition posed to local businesses in some OECS countries by Chinese-owned retail shops is to be discussed at the regional level.
That’s according to Dominican trade unionist Thomas Letang, who is among those expressing concern that Chinese nationals operating retail businesses in Roseau have allegedly caused some local enterprises to shut down.
Letang says his Dominica Public Service Union is concerned about job losses resulting because some local retailers have been forced out of business because of competition from the Chinese.
He has indicated that the matter is expected to be discussed at a meeting of the regional labour movement in Port of Spain this week.
“The executive of the Caribbean Public Services Association is meeting in Trinidad and we are hoping to take a definite position on that and write to the respective governments, and of course, to the CARICOM Secretariat also,” Letang told WINN FM’s The Bigger Picture.
The Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Basseterre, St. Kitts has indicated that some local businesses have folded because of competition from the Chinese.
Meanwhile, the head of the St. Lucia Manufacturers Association, Paula Calderon, says her own business has suffered from competition from the Chinese.
She gave this response when asked on WINN FM’s Bigger Picture, whether she could confirm that several businesses in Castries had folded because of competition in the retail sector from Chinese businesses.
“I in particular, since I do a lot of the products which they have now come in to St. Lucia to do, because they actually left Dominica and came here to set up,” Calderon said in explaining that her business has direct competition from the Chinese.
“And my particular company has had that problem because I am into security shutters, hurricane shutters and things like that, which they are now doing in St Lucia,” the Manufacturers Association president said.
The Chinese retail competition has been blamed in part on the economic citizenship programmes being operated by countries including St. Kitts and Nevis and Dominica.
President of the St Lucia China Friendship Association, Earl Bousquet, says some of the Chinese entrepreneurs who set up shop in Castries arrived there with Dominican passports acquired under Roseau’s economic citizenship programme.
“Because those other CARICOM countries are selling economic citizenship and the like. And therefore Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, and a number of other nationalities have been taking advantage of those things, opening businesses,” Bousquet said.
Spokesman at the Chinese Embassy in Dominica, Yu Zisen, is on record as having explained that “the presence of Chinese business significantly enriches the diversity of products at the local market, and stimulates the vitality of market by bringing in competition, with the majority of the local people benefiting from this.”