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Preparations for the historic Caribbean Trade, Tourism and Cultural Fair billed to run for four days in Tokyo, Japan next year, moved into high gear with the Region's processed food and beverage manufacturers, and the public and private sectors getting ready for what promises to be a grand Caribbean exposition.

The Caribbean exposition is mooted as the stepping stone to opening-up new avenues of CARICOM/Japan Cooperation, stimulating trade and investment opportunities between this Region and Japan.

The Region is being assisted in the preparations by the External Trade Organisation (JETRO), the co-sponsors of the Fair. CARICOM Secretariat officials have been spearheading the Region's preparations, working along with their Japanese counterparts from JETRO on a two-prong series of preparatory activities.

The latest development in the preparatory work has been deliberations earlier this week between the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Mr. Edwin Carrington, and Japan Non-Resident Ambassador to Guyana, His Excellency Masateru Ito, at the Georgetown, Guyana-based CARICOM Headquarters.

At the other level of preparations, a seminar series started in Jamaica early this week, where processed food and beverage manufacturers sought to focus on the potential of their regional exports on the Japanese market.

The series of seminars brings together processed food and beverage manufacturers across the Region, and will continue during next month in Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada respectively.

JETRO processed food and beverage specialist, Mr. Shinji Amaya, who is in the Region conducting the seminars, will also undertake sample evaluations and visit manufacturing entities in these countries. Mr. Amaya is also expected to pay similar visits to companies in Barbados.

The next round of preparatory activity is a training programme under the title “CARICOM Promotion Programme”, designed to benefit the Region both at the public and private sector levels. The Trade and Investment Promotion initiative is intended to equip participants with an insight into the business climate in Japan, as well as the operations of the Japanese Overseas Development Agency (ODA).

The Programme is being organised by Japan International Cooperation Agency(JICA) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

The Caribbean exposition was first proposed at the 7th CARICOM/Japan Consultation in Georgetown, Guyana in November 1999. CARICOM Foreign Affairs Ministers participating in the First Ministerial CARICOM-Japan Meeting, in Tokyo last year, accepted the offer of Japan to organise the fair.

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