Coronavirus derails export awards
The threat of the coronavirus (C.O.V.I.D.-19) is threatening to derail the schedule of the the local export industry's night of nights: the 2020 Samoa Export Awards.
The President of the Samoa Association of Manufacturers and Exports (S.A.M.E.), Tagaloa Eddie Wilson, told the Samoa Observer that they are thinking of extending the due date for applications and rescheduling information sessions on the awards.
(Applications had previously been due to be submitted yesterday.)
The awards are scheduled to take place on 26 June at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum at Vailima.
He said the 2019-2020 measles epidemic and the C.O.V.I.D.-19 pandemic is having a negative impact on S.A.M.E. members; only a few turned up for information sessions held on March 17 and 19.
"All businesses are in an unfortunate state at the moment with the recent measles epidemic and now the coronavirus, it is impossible to state the number of the applicants and our Information sessions that were scheduled for the 17th and 19th was not at the best time,” he said.
The information sessions were held at the office of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (M.C.I.L.).
Tagaloa added that they are now settling on a date that works out for everyone.
"We can't have a program if people can't attend, everyone is being cautious about the virus and health is top priority,” he said.
The awards have been plagued by setbacks and postponements since their inception in 2018.
The inaugural awards in 2018 had to be moved following Cyclone Gita.
"And now everyone is at risk because of the spreading virus, and if this gets out of hand then we will be ready to postpone but for now we have not changed the date,” he said.
There were about 25 applicants for the first export awards; Tagaloa expects at least 20 firms to apply this time around.
A new category for the Best Creative Industry Exporter Award has been created for small businesses, and has been added to the 2020 awards to encourage local producers from different villages to find export agents
There is also a category for the Best Female Exporter.
"[We want] to acknowledge our women and it is the same with the new award for the best creativity; it is not a matter of size or gained profit but performance over the years,” he said.