Starting this Thursday, Jamaicans will once again have the opportunity to view the exhibits and network with booth holders who will showcase their products and services at the Consular Corps of Jamaica's Expo 2012. Started in 2001, there was a brief hiatus but it returned last year and the organisers fully intend to make it an annual event. It takes place from October 4 to 6 at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
Robert C. Scott, JP, vice- dean of the corps and honorary consul for Latvia in Jamaica told The Gleaner in a telephone interview that the overall objective of the expo is to support trade among nations. "The international trade expo provides a marketplace for buyers and sellers to meet, see what's available in participating countries and initiate trading relationships," he said.
To date, there have been many success stories coming out of the expo. They include the Magotty, St Elizabeth-based manufacturers of Polish sausages, who after last year's expo, secured a deal to have their product distributed locally by the Progressive Grocers group.
Participants in the expo are drawn from consulates, embassies and other firms that see the opportunities to meet with high-level persons within embassies. Through these embassies and consulates, participants get to make contact with manufacturers and exporters in far-away countries. They also compete to see who has the best display, and last year, the South African embassy emerged winner of the coveted Governor General's Best Booth Trophy. Naturally, they will be on show again this year.
Sponsored by Scotiabank since its inception, the expo provides opportunities for visitors to learn more about the cultures of the countries represented. It provides a genuine opportunity for potential importers and business persons to explore the offerings of several countries and make connections without the cost and time involved in participating in trade missions. It also creates an opportunity for exporters to investigate other markets and identify possible trading partners in other countries.
Scott said the booth holders pay a small fee of US$550 (J$49,500.00) to host a booth for the three days and a very limited number of booths are still available. There is no charge for the public to attend the expo.
Activities planned for the three days include: a private viewing for the business community on Thursday, October 4, at 6 p.m. This allows extended conversations and enquiries to be made regarding trade. On Friday, October 5, the expo will open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For the official opening ceremony at 6 p.m., Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Senator A.J. Nicholson, QC will be the keynote speaker. The opening hours on Saturday, October 6, will be the same as the day before, except that at the closing ceremony scheduled for 7 p.m., Governor General Sir Patrick Allen will be the guest speaker.