The second annual Antigua and Barbuda – United Kingdom Business Forum is currently taking place from the 6th to the 11th November, 2022 in London and Leicester.
The event seeks to identify, promote and connect trade and investment opportunities for Antiguan and Barbudan businesses in the UK market.
Exhibitors from across the country will have the opportunity to showcase their goods and services at various customised events to include the World Travel Market, one of the world’s largest global travel and tourism events.
Tuesday marked the first official day of the Forum which was opened with a welcome from High Commissioner Karen-Mae Hill. High Commissioner Hill thanked the exhibiting companies for their vision and courage to forge out into new markets.
She noted the numerous opportunities the Forum would provide for everyone from specially arranged private Business to Business meetings with potential business interests, networking events and from technical information sessions on accessing the UK market.
Her Excellency Lindsy Thompson, Resident British Commissioner in St. Johns also delivered remarks at the opening ceremony.
In her remarks, she paid testament to the considerable efforts at the Antigua and Barbuda High Commission, and at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, and Immigration for organising the impressive programme. Commissioner Thompson noted the current trade relationship between the UK and Antigua and Barbuda totalled over XCD 1 billion in the year to June 2022.
Both nations wanted that to continue to grow. There was a real opportunity to shape a distinct, ambitious trading partnership and to deepen trade and investment links between our two nations. During the first day of full engagements, the exhibitors had the opportunity to listen to informative presentations and engage in round-table discussions with key stakeholders in the UK government and private sector.
Flora Robertson, from the Economic Partnership Agreements -Trade for Development team at the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office delivered a presentation on the CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement (the “EPA”).
The EPA is a comprehensive trade and development partnership designed to open up and enhance trade between the UK and Signatory CARIFORUM States.
In the presentation the exhibitors learned about the nature of preferential access that Antigua and Barbuda enjoys with the UK in goods and services, about the rules of origin stipulations and sanitary and phytosanitary measures that are necessary for their products to be allowed entry into the United Kingdom.
They also had the opportunity to ask any questions or address any concerns they might have about exporting to the United Kingdom.
The interactive roundtable sessions continued throughout the first half of the day where there were also presentations scheduled from David Marston and Alex Phillippidis, directors of Category Wins, a business management consultancy.
David and Alex provided producers with full insight into UK market trends and category specific insight so they are well positioned to use this insight to sell their products and brands to potential customers in the UK. This presentation was followed by private meetings with each exhibitor. The final scheduled presentation of the day was by Andy Thorne, the CEO of the British shipping company, Kestrel.
In the second half of the day, the exhibitors displayed their products at the World Travel Market at the ExCel Centre in London. The World Travel Market attracts some of the world’s biggest companies in the travel and leisure industry.
Here, they had a chance to network and provide samples to a wide variety of UK and International businesses – from local niche stores to large multinationals and conglomerates.
The Forum will continue on Wednesday where there will be a series of Business to Business meetings for the exhibitors as well as a consumer expo, book launch and film screening in partnership with the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority.
Nine businesses are participating in the Forum: Grannie Annie Pepper Sauce, Neem Avenue, Crispa Chips, Shell Beach Sea Food Company, Sarafina Savoury Caribbean Pudding, 2SIX8 Craft Brewery, Antigua Distillery Ltd., Miss Ellie’s Stuffed Dumplings and BWC Enterprises.
Several public and private sector partners have contributed to making the Forum possible. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the law firm Georgiev, Todorov & Co., the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, the UK Department for International Trade, Caribbean Export, the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Trade and the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority.