Following trade exposition in Barbados
Business opportunities open up for Guyanese by Shirley Thomas
Guyana Chronicle
March 7, 2004

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GUYANA’s just concluded three-day Trade Exposition held in Barbados has been hailed as a resounding success with possibilities opening up for new and increased trade relations between the two CARICOM member states.

The exhibition held at the Grand Barbados Beach Resort from Ferbruary 26-29, and showcasing some of the best locally produced products, and efficient and cost-effective services, was well supported by Barbadians and Guyanese, as well as tourists on the island.

And, taking their cue from Prime Minister of Barbados, Mr. Owen Arthur - who lauded the high quality of the products and urged Barbadians to support the Guyana trade initiative, and to invest here - Barbadians almost immediately began to take advantage of the prospects.

This call to action by the Prime Minister saw the opening up of a flood of business initiatives between Guyanese manufacturers and Barbadians who were able to test and verify the durability and other marketing attributes of the products before them.

Coming out of the venture, one local furniture manufacturer immediately clinched a deal to supply some half a million US dollars (US$0.5 M) worth of wicker furniture to businesses to Barbados over the next three months.

Managing Director of L-Mart Exclusive Wicker/Cane Furniture, Mrs. Violet Lall, reported that business was quite good for her.

Pulling order sheets of the `fax’ machine as she spoke with the Chronicle last week, Lall reported that she received an order from one of the most prestigious hotels in Barbados to furnish 30 of its rooms with Wicker Cane Furniture. Initially, the order was for 28, but within a few days, that had increased to 30. Then came a request from two other establishments for a few hundred wicker chairs. Yet another requested 24 single chairs, 26 television stands, eight bedroom dressers, 44 bar stools, 40 tables and 160 matching dining chairs, and 40 cocktail tables.

At this rate, Lall said, she figures there will be a lot of work to ensure that stocks do not run out. Lall, who designs most of her own chairs, said she’s been used to getting orders, but this has been the best time for her business.

What is unique in her approach, is that she tries to incorporate the wicker with solid purple heart wood to come up with novel and lasting creations.

Although the business, located at lot 183 E Quamina Street, South Cummingsburg, has only been in existence for about 10 years now, L-Mart Exclusive Wicker/Cane Furniture has rapidly made a mark in the furniture industry – both in Guyana and the Caribbean.

Lall attributes her success to the firm’s commitment to excellence, the constant search for new designs, and the craftsmanship and dedication of the company’s seasoned artisans.

L-Mart’s Exclusive products are hand-crafted, combining renewable forest resources with the finest local and imported fabrics, she proudly asserted.

L-Mart’s products include dining room furniture tables, chairs and cabinets; living room ensembles - sofas, love-seats, arm chairs and coffee tables; headboards and frames, night tables, chest, dressers and wardrobes, among other items for the bedroom.

Prime Minister Owen Arthur, showed a personal interest in the high quality products coming out of Guyana, and was particularly interested in L-Mart’s furniture, Liana Craft; Banks DIH’s line of products; Ricks and Sari’s products; Sonya Noel’s Fashion Creations and Patricia Carrington’s leather-crafted footwear. The Prime Minister was enticed by the Guyana Marketing Corporation’s ‘healthy red cherries’ (wirri-wirri peppers).

President Bharrat Jadgeo who spoke highly of the Guyanese products, extended a hand of friendship to the Barbadians and promised to put systems in place to facilitate their coming to Guyana to enter into trading investments. The Guyanese Head of State said he is of the view that there are huge potentials for bilateral trade and investment between the two countries.

Showing appreciation for Guyanese hospitality, Prime Minister Arthur urged Barbadians to show Guyanese the same courtesies and goodwill offered them when they visit Guyana.

The level of enthusiasm and interest in the Guyanese products (many of them award-winning) showcased on the three days, was continually high, and was the only activity around Barbados that stiffly challenged the cricket match between Guyana and Barbados. It is estimated that well over 15,000 persons viewed the Guyanese trade exposition – a collaborative effort between the Guyana Office for Trade and Investment and the Office of the Guyana’s Honorary Consul to Barbados, Mr. Norman Farrier.

President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Edward Boyer commented that the trade exposition has been a remarkable event, especially taking into consideration the massive support given by the thousands who daily turned up at the Grand Barbados Beach Resort to view exhibits and show interest in setting up trading relations.

He said, now that preparations are being made to take the exhibition to Trinidad, there is need to look at the niche market. This is so especially since a lot of the people expressing interest are at this time looking at the smaller market because of the constraints of buying large quantities in the Asian market.

Boyer advised that what Guyana needs to do is look at value-added markets, rather that sending out its products in bulk as raw materials

Meanwhile, Guyana’s Honorary Consul to Trinidad and Tobago is fast-tracking arrangements with the Trinidadian business community for Guyana to take a similar trade exposition there by the end of May.