Published On: Mon, Feb 13th, 2023

Trade fairs

Dear Editor,

After previously shining the light on ‘Call Centers’ as an avenue to diversify the economy, the topic today will surround ‘Trade Fairs’.

See related article: Call centers as a way to diversify our economy

A trade fair and/or exhibition is a congregation of showrooms where different vendors are under one roof. Fair and exhibitions constitute the means of presenting goods and/or services with the intention to attract the visitor’s attention which in turn would be grasping their interest in the goods or products displayed.

Sint Maarten is already a major hub throughout the Caribbean region with the plus side being – no duties on our imports. On Sint Maarten, we currently import almost everything in large quantities i.e. supermarket products, hair/beauty products, formal/casual clothing, shoes, etc. Vendors from various departments on Sint Maarten can have the opportunity to act as the middleman between the products they already import and their neighbouring islands such as Statia, St Barths, Anguilla, Antigua, St Kitts & Nevis etc., who are already somewhat dependent on Sint Maarten.

To include, Sint Maarten also consists of a few local manufacturers e.g. Nectar SXM, Guavaberry, Etna etc. So not only the vendors who import goods can have an opportunity to display their products on display, but local manufacturers will also gain the opportunity to mass produce their product for wholesale. In turn, this would in fact broaden the reach of a product locally produced on our island, Sint Maarten.

An event like this can be best hosted by the Ministry of TEATT In collaboration with the business community & the chamber of commerce. The combination of these departments can send out invitations to the merchants of our neighbouring islands through their respective chamber of commerce.

In regards to funding, and creating an attractive product that is inviting:

  • A vendor/exhibitor list could be created.
  • A formal fee could be imposed towards the vendors/exhibitors in order to secure their
    position in such a fair. With, of course, the government’s aid in such a case.
  • Our wholesalers can be approached and urged to provide special rates to first time
    attendees, which in the future would no longer be applicable.
  • To perhaps give impetus to this initiative, the first trade fair turnover could be waived from TOT, which would encourage more exhibitors to get a booth.

Some benefits to list:

  • We stand to see a growth of the economy with additional visitors.
  • Hotels & restaurants stand to gain more volume.
  • Taxi drivers would see an increase of movement.
  • PJIAE sees an influx of passengers.
  • Local merchants will acquire higher exposure thus generating more turn over.
  • Better networking opportunities throughout the Caribbean region.
  • Further solidifying the “Hub” status of Sint Maarten.

Growth is needed via new ideologies; a fair and/or exhibition is not impossible to achieve. As
mentioned above, we already are one foot in with our major imports and our few local manufacturers, including good relationships with our neighbouring islands. The factor of creating a ‘trade fair package’ to invite those merchants from our neighbouring islands is the second step to take. This Trade Fair can eventually be a yearly event and act as a catalyst of economic activity on our island.

All in all, we are in a position to benefit greatly; a win-win situation, Sint Maarten can be in the position to increase inter-island tourism, and merchants from various departments see more business from off-islanders thus achieving inclusive growth for the country.

Viren V Kotai