PHILIPSBURG:--- Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation & Telecommunication (TEATT), the Honourable Arthur Lambriex, is fulfilling a pledge from his predecessor to utilize the Dominican Republic as an Agricultural trading portal and is in the DR looking at shipment options for fresh, fruits and vegetables to St. Maarten, in his bid to reduce the cost of food to consumers.
Minister Lambriex and his executive assistant Jerome Gumbs visited the Caucedo Sea Port, operated by DP World, on Monday, 29 May. They were given a complete tour of the facility, including the storage warehouses and scanners with new state-of-the-art technology. DP World ships fresh, Healthy Organic Produce at affordable prices daily to Port-au-Prince, Haiti using its vessels. They recently expanded service weekly to San Juan, Puerto Rico. "My goal is to find a public/private partnership model that works for St. Maarten where we possibly subsidize the shipping cost for the Agricultural produce to keep costs down for our consumers," stated Minister Lambriex.
He said St. Maarten was not just interested in the fresh fruits and vegetables but also wanted to take advantage of the high-quality Poultry that is available in the DR. "Many big brands such as IKEA, GOYA, HANES, and much more are now using Dominican Republic as a hub for their storage and transhipments to other Caribbean islands and with the DR's vast farmland, and proximity to St. Maarten, Minister Lambriex sees the possibility to drive food prices down if the proper measures are put in place to establish the supply route between the two countries.
His visit was a follow-up to the meeting held late last year by Acting TEATT Minister Omar Ottley, who then met with the Agribusiness board representatives to inquire about the Dominican Republic's ability to supply St. Maarten with agricultural products.
Minister Lambriex said that St. Maarten would benefit significantly from a partnership based on the current exchange rate, the low labour cost and the vast farmlands, many with already established production.