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Grenada’s Foreign Minister Dr the Hon. Raphael Fletcher will lead an 85-strong CARICOM Ministerial Trade and Investment Mission to South Africa at the weekend.

The Mission is a joint effort between the public and private sectors and will include four other government ministers as well as CARICOM Secretary-General Mr. Edwin Carrington. St Lucia’s Foreign Affairs Minister the Hon. George Odlum, Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, the Hon. Clement Rohee, St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Minister of Trade and Industry, the Hon. John-Clark Horne and Jamaica’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Hon. Anthony Hylton will participate in the Mission along with Ambassador Richard Pierce of Jamaica and CARICOM Assistant Secretary General Foreign and Community Relations Mr Orlando Marville.

The Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC) will be represented by its Executive Director, Mr Felipe Noguera while Mr Allan Marsh, Marketing Manager will represent the Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA). The Agency will mount a two day exhibition of Caribbean products and services on the first two days of the five-day Mission. During the five days of the Mission, from January 26-31, meetings have been arranged between compatible business partners. The CARICOM Secretariat, Kairi Consultants of Trinidad and Tobago, Dimpex Inc. of South Africa, CEDA and CAIC came together to organise the Mission.

A strong private sector contingent including many micro and medium size enterprises from throughout the Region have seized the opportunity to display their goods. Among the countries from which business representation is drawn are Trinidad and Tobago, with the largest contingent, Barbados, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, St Lucia, Grenada, Suriname, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica.

The Ministerial delegation will meet with their counterparts in South Africa as well as visit industrial and manufacturing sites. They are also expected to have audience with the Vice-President of South Africa, Mr Thabo Mbeki who was recently elected to replace the President His Excellency Nelson Mandela, as head of the ruling African National Congress. The Ministers will also pay a courtesy call on Botswana President Quett Masire who was recently in the Caribbean.

The Mission arises out of a decision by the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community to visit South Africa to explore opportunities in the areas of trade and economic and financial services.

In paving the way for this mission, Secretary General Carrington had discussions with South Africa’s High Commissioner in London as well as with the Commonwealth Secretariat before visiting South Africa and Botswana where he met with public and private sector officials as well as the Southern African Development Council. In return President Mandela despatched a personal envoy to the Heads of Government who met with them in Barbados during the XVII meeting of the Conference in 1996.

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