FRENCH READY TO DO BUSINESS HERE ON CONDITION. . .
On Wednesday, Saint Lucia officially welcomed Philippe Ardanaz as the new French Ambassador to the OECS member states and Barbados with residency here in Saint Lucia. He revealed, he was on island since the beginning of October, however he presented his credentials to the Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy before he met with members of the media earlier on Wednesday.
The ambassador who previously held diplomatic responsibilities in Honduras, said he was elated with his new position as the “French embassy is the only European country to have a full embassy here in Saint Lucia.”
Though he has been on island for less than two months, Philippe said there are four main areas he would like to focus on in the islandLanguage, Security, Education and Business. “Business and investment is a priority for me,” the ambassador said.
“Between Martinique and Saint Lucia it is less than twenty miles, but when you see the figures, you will see we do not trade goods and services or invest a lot, and I think we need to improve that," he continued, “When I see the products in the supermarkets from so far away they are far more expensive than in Martinique.”
When asked, what are his views on the current administration's plans for development, the ambassador said, “I think this is a very business oriented government, at least that is what the prime minister said, and that is good. It will forge opportunities to invest in Saint Lucia and to create jobs.”
“This is something I want to be involved with, once we could see there are very good and friendly conditions to invest here, my job is to tell the French firms, come to Saint Lucia, invest in Saint Lucia,” Philippe added.
Developing the language barrier between the French and English is also something the ambassador plans on concentrating on. He commented, “there are a number of educational opportunities Saint Lucians can take advantage off once they have at least a B2 level in French.” The newly appointed ambassador explained that access to graduate studies at French Universities in Paris, are far more economical to local students once they can speak French. “In France we have a number of high level universities and they are for free, it is paid by the tax payers, and it makes a huge difference than if you have to pay so much at American universities or even at The University of the West Indies,” he said. “So once you study French at least a B2 level, you can access the universities in France,” he said encouragingly.
In answer to reporter's query about his country's involvement in the IMPACS matter , the ambassador said “I read about that and I know the files are not closed, they are open, but they are in the same situation since 2011 and nothing has been done. However I am not aware that we (my office) was offering some form of help in this regard.”
He promised to have more to say on the burning issue, “Once I see the EU delegation in Barbados I will have something to report on.”
Philippe Ardanaz, Ambassador in the Embassy of France to the OECS and Barbados will officially reside here in Saint Lucia and hopes to engage the public more in his plans for the island.