The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Commerce hosted local and regional participants for a training conference in Data Analysis for improved international trade relations, organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in collaboration the OECS Commission.

The three-day workshop commenced on Tuesday 14th November at the Ministry's conference room and featured a number of facilitators from across the region, including Mexico. Participants will be introduced to ECLAC's Data Analysis software: TRADECAN, MAGICPLUS and WITS, which are designed to provide greater insight into the competitiveness of international markets and, in particular, the competitiveness of a trade partner or group of trade partners of the United States for the case of MAGICPLUS.

This collaborative effort is expected to provide the necessary capacity-building in trade relations to further enhance economic development across the OECS region.

Mr. Sheldon McLean, Co-ordinator of the Economic Unit of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), outlined the goals and objectives of the workshop, which he said are geared towards providing participants "with an increased capacity to effectively use ECLAC's analytical tools that will ultimately be beneficial to their respective countries and the region on a whole."

Regional Trade Advisor with the OECS Commission, Mr. Allan Paul, applauded the collaborative efforts of regional institutions in organising this very important trade conference, which he expects will produce a cadre of trade officials from respective member states capable of providing valuable inputs "when we [OECS Commission] are pursuing future trade negotiations as an OECS Economic Union, as well as in developing regional trade policies and strategies".

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Commerce, Hon. Sir Louis Straker, expressed his gratitude to the organising team for selecting Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as the venue for this important trade meeting. Minister Straker also contextualised the significance of such a training conference, and cited current trade-related statistical data for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to highlight the current trade imbalance, which he said needs to be improved.

"A similar imbalance in trade exists between larger CARICOM states and all of our small-island economies. The onus is, therefore, on us, within our respective states, to better facilitate trade through an improvement in the production and dissemination of relevant, useful and timely data to current and potential export-ready producers in the private sector."

Minister Straker further stated that the workshop was "conceptualised to ensure that operators in the public and private sector in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and across the OECS are guided through some of the existing analytical tools where trade and competitiveness are concerned."

Over the past two decades ECLAC has developed various information systems related to International trade and other socio-economic issues within the Latin American and Caribbean region and according to the institution's website, these systems are available for governments and institutions of the region through direct request to the corresponding divisions.



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