Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 05, 2016 - WHEN IT comes to International Trade, our light manufacturing sector comes to mind. How do we grow this sector of our economy, now producing 7% of our GDP?
There is case study that informs us, an island nation, of steps we can take to elevate our own GDP through light manufacturing. In the 70’s, Taiwan was dependent on foreign aid for sustainability of its people. They too, began a Nation Building initiative over a seven year period. Taiwan was known for light manufacture of polymers, their plan called for the development of infrastructure including the creation of an International Trade Center.
Their trade centre was a marvel for its time; an expansive space where visitors interested in trade could come, find a product of interest (for example, ‘water heaters’), and actually meet directly with the manufacturer from a single point of commerce. Trade partners could locate, meet, and consummate deals within days, not weeks or months. In short, Taiwan engineered the entire process of locating, deal making, and transport of manufactured goods, under one roof. This author remembers this process, having worked in Taipei for Singer sewing machine during this same time period.
Today, there are modern-day equivalents to streamlining and facilitating trade, that in turn, can grow our manufacturing sector. Taiwan is now a donor nation, supporting nations such as ours — we must learn from their example.
Enter 2016. While travel is often required to conduct business, with the advent of broadband and teleconferencing technologies, deals of every magnitude are now routinely transacted online. With the proper infrastructure, travel from our public officials and business owners can be reduced by 50% or more.
St. Kitts and Nevis can, with minimal investment, develop an online portal via e-Government, that contains an online register of all manufactured goods, along with contact and teleconferencing that connects foreign buyers with our local manufacturers, thereby eliminating the cost of travel.
Additionally, our Federation can provide a state-of-the-art teleconferencing facility, equipped with communications and deal making services that support light manufacturing marketing and growth.
As a case study, we need look to Jack ma developed a product sourcing platform known as Alibaba to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and to address a World Trade Organization (WTO) challenge for technology that improves international trade. In September 2014 Alibaba became one of the most valuable tech companies in the world after raising $25 billion, the largest initial public offering in US financial history.
The reason for such success? They accomplished the same feat that Taiwan did in an analog world, making it easy to locate, make a deal, and arrange for transport of manufactured goods. With the imminent release of SKN’s e-Government platform, combined with creation of a state-of-the-art teleconferencing facility on island, we can elevate our manufacturing base.