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Saturday, April 08, 2006 

Spain promises to assist St. Kitts/Nevis’ tourism product

Saturday April 08 2006

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – Spain promised Thursday to assist St. Kitts/Nevis in developing its fledging tourism sector in light of the closure of the sugar industry.

Spain’s Ambassador to the Federation, Jesus Silva said his European nation is also supporting the position of St. Kitts and Nevis and other sugar producing African-Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) for adequate compensation following the decision of the European Union to slash by 36 per cent, the price it will pay for sugar. In light of the price cut, St. Kitts and Nevis was forced last July to close its already debt-ridden and loss-making sugar industry.

The Jamaica-based diplomat told St. Kitts/Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr. Denzil L. Douglas that Spain has been “very understandable of the ACP position” and “your views, and we have always been with you against the European Commission. We have been fighting also some of the initiatives of the Commission.”

He said while there is no agreement between the ACP and the European Union on the amount of compensation “there is always some solution in between.”

“It’s never what you want and never what they want. There will always be an intermediate solution, but I think that some of the technical issues of how to allot the money in terms of having to contribute more in the beginning and less in the end. I think those things are reasonable and should be taken into account,” he said.

Prime Minister Douglas headed a Caribbean delegation to Europe last month to impress upon the Europeans the very severe challenges the region would face with the decision to reduce the price of sugar by 36 per cent.

The Spanish diplomat lauded Prime Minister Douglas on his Government’s decision to diversify the new St. Kitts/Nevis economy in the area of tourism hospitality services and promised Spain’s assistance in the development of this fledging sector.

“We applaud what you are doing now, which is investing in tourism, because you cannot invent the beauty of your country and you cannot invent the beauty of your beaches and of your scenery,” he said.

Silva said Spain is willing to assist in programmes for alternative agricultural production that would benefit the former employees of the sugar industry.

“It could produce the type of agriculture that the tourism industry is demanding so it will be much better for your country thus reducing the need to import things,” said the Spanish Ambassador.

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