PHILIPSBURG--The Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will visit St. Maarten to elaborate on support instruments available for Kingdom enterprises, including those on St. Maarten, in international trade. This will occur at the St. Maarten Innovations, Initiatives and Industries event (SMILE) on October 25 and 26.

Support and subsidy measures are available to local companies that want to export products and services beyond St. Maarten including tourism products, according to St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA), the entity that announced the upcoming visit.

Saskia de Smidt from the Department of International Enterprise of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as Ronald Vermeeren of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency will provide a workshop explaining what instruments are available.

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency has multiple support measures and subsidies available for St. Maarten businesses, for example vouchers for coaching, participation in trade missions and knowledge vouchers. By means of these vouchers, companies receive assistance in making the step beyond kingdom borders.

Though export support seems to involve physical trade beyond borders, it was reconfirmed earlier this year that tourism products are also entitled to the services provided. This means that tourism companies doing business beyond the borders of the Kingdom can benefit from the support offered.

Meanwhile, for those companies doing business with European Dutch companies, the Dutch Trade and Investment Fund (DTIF) offers financial support to Dutch companies that want to trade to St. Maarten.

Many of the instruments can be found at http://english.rvo.nl/Caribbean in English. During their contribution to SMILE, time will be made available to go in-depth with representatives de Smidt and Vermeeren to what extent the instruments would apply to specific cases.  

As SMILE 2018 had quite an amount of companies from Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, the organisers underline many of the instruments are also available for companies from those countries, as well as for Saba and St. Eustatius.   For SMILE 2019, speakers from Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are slated. In Aruba and the Netherlands, special SMILE pre-events will be held in conjunction with the Aruban Chamber of Commerce and Ondernemend Nederland (ONL).

The SMILE event was created in 2018 and aims to highlight innovative and sustainable companies and projects, and to facilitate business-to-business networking. Last year’s edition attracted over 300 visitors from 89 organisations representing nine countries.

The event has the support from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (COCI), ORCO Bank, Global Resourcing, 360 Innovation (Aruba) and University of St Martin (USM). It is meant for entrepreneurs, managers, innovators, marketeers and HR professionals from companies both large and small. For this edition, content will be organised around the four main themes of innovation, marketing-funding, sustainability and human resource management.

Businesses and non-governmental organisations interested in SMILE can obtain more information at 542-0108 or via events@shta.com. Information will be continuously updated at www.shta.com/SMILE.