Blazing the manufacturing trail…
Manufacturing – how do we blaze the trail.? Joan Lunden, noted journalist, author and television host opined, “It’s not always as comfortable blazing the trail as it is walking on it.” With this as a proviso, the new Council of the Manufacturing Division took office in February of 2016 and immediately set about “blazing the manufacturing trail” on behalf of members. Our team meets monthly and is comprised of the following persons:
Blazing the manufacturing trail with meaningful dialogue
We met with the Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and raised some familiar and not so familiar questions
- ARTICLE 164 (Treaty of Chaguaramas) – how should we proceed on this matter? Should we follow the other OECS countries that have already implemented this article, by “cherry-picking” those commodities that are important to us? Or do we opt for a full implementation? The tone of the discussion seemed to suggest that full implementation would result in increased cost of living thus any possible action would have to go the route of cherry-picking. We await follow-up on this most urgent matter.
- BRAZIL-GUYANA-ST. KITTS PARTIAL SCOPE AGREEMENT – Our division is still very concerned with the fact that to date there has been no implementation of the Partial Scope Agreement between St. Kitts Guyana and Brazil. At our most recent meeting with the Minister of Trade it was decided that a delegation meet with the Brazilian Ambassador with a view of understanding where we stand in regards to the full implementation.
- EXPORT FACILITATION – our members are concerned about ways in which they can increase their level of business. We are of the belief that the following can be a first step in the achieving of the export objective.
- TRADE EXPORT DESK –there is the urgent need amongst our sector to increase our marketspace. Our local market, limited by our population size, is all but saturated. We have no recourse but to go further afield; but sometimes the process is so difficult that there is the need for someone to help in the facilitation of this endeavor.
- TRADE CREDIT INSURANCE – an EXIM Bank type arrangement to facilitate International Trade and to create viable opportunities for St. Kitts and Nevis products to enter new markets. As a first step, we need the opportunity for Trade Credit Insurance to protect against the loss of domestic and foreign receivables. Following on that, provision can be made whereby SMEs can procure trade financing arrangements including international lines of credit.
- Hosted by Ministries of International Trade and Justice & Legal Affairs, there was a “National Workshop on the Benefits for Compliance and the National Implication of Non-Compliance of the Implementation of Trade Agreement Obligation, facilitated by Dr. Kathy-Ann Browne – important within this presentation is that businesses must be aware of their rights as it relates to trade matters.
- St Kitts & Nevis National Energy Balances Launch and discussion. St. Kitts now has the baseline it needs to evaluate annual performance.
- Attended OECS Regional Intellectual Property Workshop, Antigua May 19 – 20, 2016 covered:
- Nature of copyright
- The importance of utilising copyright to building your business – (Proper usage of photographs, images in advertising to sell products)
- What is it and how can a company avoid infringement?
- How can trademarks and trade secrets help companies to establish a brand identity and to boost the intangible value of the company/business?
- The value to SME’s of entering into long term deals with local celebrities (Endorsement Merchandise Deals)
- The importance of the legal usage of music when creating TV advertisements to sell a company’s products
- The role of a synchronization deal
Important Observations…to blaze the manufacturing trail
- Workshop was very timely especial the fact that it opened my eyes to the rights and liabilities we have or may incur. Things that we generally may take for granted
- How can we use our trademark to establish our business brand identity, thus making our trademark synonymous with our brand and our products?
- Chamber members must seek more info regarding their trademarks so that they can protect their marks, especially if they are manufacturing and may possess “secrets”.
- Chamber members must at all times be careful when using music for adverts. Permission must be sought from the creator of the lyrics and music and not necessarily the singer of the song (unless they are both one and the same). Note–if at any time we infringe the rights of the creator of the music and the writer of the song we will be opening ourselves to law suits.
- Manufacturers must all seek to register their trademarks to distinguish goods and services from other enterprises.
National Manufacturing Strategy
- The National Manufacturing Strategy has been officially launched and coming out of this, the structure of the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council has been formalised. There are FOUR working sub committees three of which have already met and outlined their terms of reference and now the work begins; namely
- Human Resource Development and Occupational Safety
- Business Facilitation
- Energy and Natural Resource
For this to work there must be complete buy-in to the goals and objectives put forth in the National Manufacturing Strategy, with full concentration on the manufacturing priority areas. These areas will provide the impetus for the overall growth of the sector and will redound to well needed benefits for all stakeholders. Our input and continued dialogue with stakeholders is critical to the success of this strategy.
Core Focus as we Blaze the trail for Manufacturing
The core focus of our executive over the next two years will be focused upon:
- Product & Market Research and Development – keeping abreast of trends and investing in research and development that will improve our competitiveness. We intend to ensure that our members are given the tools t0 successfully bring their products to market. To this end we invite other manufacturers to get on board. I am also sending a blanket invitation to the Agro Processing sector to get on board and let the Chamber assist in getting your products into the export market. Of significance is also the need for market intelligence. It is unwise for us to think that we can exist within without having the requisite information as to what is happening within our market. We will seek ways to get this type of information available to our members. Important within this core focus area is the need for incubator type business arrangements for start-ups and fledging manufacturing businesses. Imagine the comfort despite the small size of having business support systems that are necessary in providing that added competitive edge needed for the business to succeed. We will continue to explore this and other possibilities that will help to grow our sector.
- Standards and Regulations – becoming compliant with the various standards and regulations that govern an export trade. Our sector is supportive of the grant awarded to the Bureau of Standards from the CSME Standby Facility of $198,791 USD EPA for Capacity Building Projects that will help finance the enhancement of the National Quality Infrastructure and facilitate the development of national standards. This augurs well for our sector and will indeed enhance our competitiveness as we seek to expand our export capabilities. We take on board practices that exists in Jamaica where a stamp of quality from the Jamaica Bureau of Standards assures the purchaser of a high level of quality and the goods are then free to be sold in the local market or to be exported. That level of acceptance of our Bureau of Standards is what we are aiming for.
- Education and Skills Development – working with schools, colleges and the TVET Council to ensure that skills and subject areas required for success in the manufacturing sector are not only included in the curriculum but staffed with qualified personnel.
With those few words I will close as I began …… “It’s not always as comfortable blazing the trail as it is walking on it.”
Ours is a very challenging task but one that we relish and do intend to be forever mindful that the job that we have undertaken, we do so for the combined benefit of our sector and the individual benefit of our members.