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Patterson among patrons pleased with Expo 2014

BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE Sunday Observer staff reporter husseyd@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, April 06, 2014    

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VISITORS and booth holders to Expo Jamaica 2014 said that they were pleased with the variety of displays by the over 120 Jamaican manufacturers who gathered inside the National Arena on yesterday's second of the three-day trade show.

Among those expressing satisfaction after examining what was being offered was former Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson.

"I'm very impressed by the display, by the variety, the involvement of small producers, the greater use of local material in the various blends that are on display," Patterson told the Jamaica Observer.

Patterson said that he was particularly pleased by the linkage with the tourism industry.

"I am particularly pleased that tourism is part of this exhibition because I see the possibility of a dynamic linkage between tourism and industry and tourism and agriculture as well. I am delighted that so many overseas buyers are here, particularly buyers from Venezuela, because we are able to sell them things and get payment from the Petro Caribe account," Patterson suggested to the Sunday Observer.

"And especially in a period when there are shortages being experienced for certain items in the Venezuelan market, this provides a wonderful opportunity for Jamaica to step up their production and capitalise on one of the benefits of the Petro Caribe (Agreement) which the cement company has already started to use but which the others should also be able to explore," said Patterson, who retired as prime minister in 2006, after serving in that capacity for 13 years.

Patterson expressed the hope that the Expo will generate two things. Firstly, that the need for imported items which can be produced locally will be reduced, and secondly, that items that can be exported will favour a balance of trade, thus there can be a greater inflow of foreign currency and a greater outflow of currency to purchase these goods.

The satisfaction of patrons were evident on the faces of many.

"I am impressed with everything," said Patricia Hercules, who journeyed from Mandeville with her husband Grafton, solely for the occasion.

"I'm impressed with all the layout - everything is wonderful. I like the fact that most of the things here are Jamaican brand. I like the staff that is helping, because everybody is so pleasant and helpful," she said, as her husband nodded in agreement.

Troy Graham, another patron, said that it was a learning experience for him.

"So far so good. I am being exposed to new things," Graham said. "For example, I can, off the bat, mention Benjamin's products. When I hear about Benjamin's the only thing that came to my mind was vanilla. And I went to the Benjamin's booth and there was even seasoning for this and seasoning for that. So it is good. I am convinced to buy Jamaican," he said.

Erica Coombs said that the experience was well worth it.

"I'm here to see the different products that are made here in Jamaica and also to purchase my Brand Jamaica and to build our country," she said. "I think the Expo is a good thing because I am exposed to other products. In truth and in fact, I did not know that some of the products were made here and when I go to the supermarket I usually buy the ones from abroad, but now I know that these things are really manufactured here and so I will buy Jamaica and build my country," Coombs said.

One buyer, Verman Bedessee, vice-president of Bedessee Imports Inc, in New York, said that he partnered with 80 per cent of the exhibitors.

"We are one of the largest distributors of Caribbean products and coming into the show I can see new products that several new vendors or current vendors have added to their line. The market always changes for supply and demand and the show for me has been a very positive one, because 80 per cent of the stuff offered here will be in some type of business with my company," Bedessee said.

He said that he was impressed with the organisation and the set-up, however, he feels that more vendors with ground provisions are needed, while smaller companies also needed to be included.

A record number of over 500 buyers from 28 countries are participating in Expo Jamaica 2014, the Caribbean's largest trade show, which got underway on April 3. The buyers comprise 308 local buyers and 199 international buyers from 28 countries, including the US, UK and Canada.

Expo 2014, which continues today, is a collaborative effort between the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) and the Jamaica Exporters' Association (JEA) in association with JAMPRO.

Expo Jamaica 2014 is presented under the theme 'Brand Jamaica to the World!'

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