SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) took part in the Sint Maarten Reconstruction Information Session that took place in The Hague, the Netherlands on September 28. COCI was represented at the information session by Anastacio Baker, Louis Bute and Bertaux Fleming.
The Information Session was organized by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (NEA) of the Government of the Netherlands and the Netherlands in Business.
The objective of the trip to the Netherlands was to get the message across that Sint Maarten is open for business; that the Sint Maarten business community must benefit from the rebuilding of the country via the multi-million dollar Dutch-provided fund managed by the World Bank; and to build a strong bridge between the private sector of Sint Maarten and that of the Netherlands due to the opportunities which are endless when we look at the knowledge exchange capabilities, according to COCI Executive Director Anastacio Baker.
Baker added that there was a lot of interests in the reconstruction of country Sint Maarten.
“There was a great turnout by the Dutch business community at the information session. From the one-on-one discussions that we had, there are great opportunities on the horizon to form business to business (B2B) partnerships with our local business community.
“The Dutch business community are ready and willing to work with us. They have the technology and best practice expertise on their end, and our local business community has the local-know-how and experience and it would be a win-win partnership for both to work together in building back better,” COCI Executive Director Baker said on Monday.
The Information Session was opened by Dutch State Secretary of Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops. Sint Maarten’s Minister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite in The Hague also spoke at the event.
“I was pleased with the statement made by State Secretary Knops. He made it clear that we are a Kingdom of four partners, and if one partner is down, then the others must heed the call to help.
“As COCI, Louis Bute, Bertaux Fleming and myself, championed the interests of Sint Maarten at the information session. We cannot afford to get bogged down in very tedious studies. Sint Maarten is already open for business.
“Due to the resilience of the Sint Maarten people and local business community, we were able to open six weeks after the hurricane with the resumption of commercial air traffic in October 2017 and the cruise ships in December 2017.
“I foresee the local private sector continuing to take the lead and with the business acumen of the Dutch business sector in collaboration and partnership with local businesses, this approach will facilitate an easy process of rebuilding the country back better in a sustainable manner for a better future of the Sint Maarten people, and to further strengthen our economy.
“Minister Plenipotentiary Wuite set the tone during the information session when she made the remark about the interests shown by the Dutch business sector being a true reminder of the strong ties that we have within the Kingdom.
“Our private sector is the engine of the national economy and COCI is here to facilitate partnerships between our business communities within the Kingdom,” Baker added in a COCI press statement on Monday.
Baker said in order to prepare optimally for the new business opportunities related to the release of the reconstruction funds, it partly involves partnering with a Dutch company, therefore COCI urges all local businesses to do an overall self-assessment to ensure that they are in good standing with various government and semi-government entities, and to join forces where possible to take advantage of current business opportunities.
Some of the preparations in order to prepare for partnership include: Checking liability policies; Meeting with the bank to determine the financial position and means of the company in the case of equipment purchase, additional payroll, operational costs, etc.; Update the company’s information, and/or register at the SZV, Labor Office, COCI, and Tax Department.
Some additional preps are: Update the company’s website or any social media profile(s); Profile the company: products and/or services, experience, staff, references, résumé, past partnerships, etc.; Start looking for partnerships and sign a project-based Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
“No business is too small or too big to do business to explore new opportunities,” COCI Executive Director Anastacio Baker concludes.
COCI Executive Director Anastacio Baker (center) giving a presentation to the Dutch business community who attended the information session about the reconstruction of Sint Maarten.