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(PRESS RELEASE) – Officials from Export Saint Lucia (TEPA) recently embarked on a four (4) day mission over in Cuba.
The delegation which also included officials from the Saint Lucia’s Ministry of Commerce, was in Cuba from Monday 17th September, to Thursday 20th September, and had as its mandate to identify and correct some of the inhibitors that may be keeping Saint Lucian exporters from penetrating the Cuban market.
Export Saint Lucia (TEPA) has been actively pursuing the Cuban market since 2012. Many of the Saint Lucian companies which have been exposed to the Cuban market over the years have gained the interest of Cuban buyers as well as government officials. However with the exception of Baron Foods St. Lucia Limited, none have been able to successfully penetrate the market and secure a contract with a buyer of interest.
This lack of progress by the Saint Lucian companies prompted Export Saint Lucia (TEPA) to complete a review of its interventions as well as those of the said companies in the Cuban market.
Coming out of this review, Export Saint Lucia (TEPA) deemed it necessary to carry out a mission to Cuba to dialogue with the relevant authorities and companies to address the stagnation and identify the way forward for Saint Lucian companies.
According to Export Saint Lucia (TEPA) CEO Sunita Daniel, the mission was a resounding success and it allowed for the clearing up of a number of misconceptions about the Cuban market.
Daniel says “the main purpose of that visit was really to go into Cuba and speak with the officials there, speak with the persons that can really make the decisions and the changes for us as well as to have meetings with them and address the concerns that our individual companies would’ve had. Some of them would’ve had registration issues; some may have had difficulty in getting further orders.”
She revealed that the trip was one of enlightenment; and says that Export Saint Lucia (TEPA) being on the ground in Cuba was really a representation of the agency’s clients, giving them firsthand view of the market’s landscape.
The assessment also revealed that many companies lacked the pertinent market entry information which is applicable to their product type.
Client Manager with responsibility for the Northern Caribbean including Cuba Hyde Constantine-Felix, says now armed with the information, the agency’s clients can have a greater appreciation for the processes associated with Cuban market entry.
“Cuba is a different type of economy; we know it’s centrally controlled so the process of doing business with them is quite different from what our companies are used to. So there’s a lot of registration with the companies, you need to operate through government authorized importers and despite being certified internationally, your products also need to be tested within Cuba.”
The Client Manager goes on to indicate that the potential is there for greater collaboration between the two countries. “We do anticipate some more support, from the companies and authorities in Cuba. They were happy to have us there to dialogue and discuss with us so we believe that will help the process.”
Export Saint Lucia was grateful for the support of the Ambassador of Saint Lucia in Cuba and the Ministry of Commerce during the mission as this collaborative effort was important to achieve the objectives of the mission.
With the information now being filtered through to the clients of Export Saint Lucia (TEPA), it is anticipated that the necessary changes will be made to allow for greater penetration into the long elusive Cuban market.