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(iWitness News) Vincentian banana farmers prefer to export their fruit to the regional rather than United Kingdom market.

That’s the word from Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar in response to a question from Member of Parliament for East Kingstown, Arnhim Eustace last Thursday.

Eustace asked Caesar to tell Parliament when the government intends to restart sales of bananas to the United Kingdom.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines has not made significant exports of bananas to the United Kingdom — previously its main market for the fruit — for years.

Caesar said that banana stakeholders have the option to trade on the regional and extra­regional markets and some have chosen to invest in ripening rooms for local consumption.

He said the government has budgeted resources to facilitate production of bananas for trade to both export and local markets and these resources are channelled through the Banana Services Unit.

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Retail stores are cutting jobs at the sharpest pace in more than seven years, evidence of a seemingly inexorable shift away from employee-heavy stores as Americans increasingly shop online.

A combined 60,600 retail job losses over the past two months have had less to do with the health of U.S. consumer spending than with changes in buying habits. In the age of Amazon, traditional stores, from J.C. Penney to Macy's, have accelerated store closures and are experimenting with the use of fewer employees to staff the remaining stores.

The industry has also been bruised by a string of bankruptcy filings, most recently from Payless ShoeSource. The company announced this week that it was closing nearly 400 stores, nearly 10 percent of its fleet.

The job cuts in the retail industry, unwelcome as they are, are still a relatively minor burden for the overall U.S. economy. But for Americans seeking a foothold in the job market, the pullback represents a painful obstacle. Retail accounts for nearly one-third of first-time jobs in the United States, so a retrenchment by the industry's employers can block access to the job market for many.

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(BVI News) Premier and Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando Smith has urged companies to consider exporting goods and services instead of concentrating solely on the local market.

“It is important to understand that the vision is not to have businesses developed simply for the local market, because that will not grow the economy alone.”

“Look beyond the local market,” Premier Smith last evening told an audience, which included a number of business persons. The Anegada Lobster is among products that he said could be exported.

Premier Smith, who also noted that he is passionate about business development, said his administration will continue to use the National Business Bureau to support new entrepreneurs with finance, accounting, customer service, marketing, business development, and operations.

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HAVANA, Cuba (CMC) —  A protocol of cooperation agreement has been signed between Cuba and Portugal that will boost work on key issues for the joint development of the industry in both countries.

The agreement was signed on Friday by Cuba’s head of tourism Manuel Marrero and Portugal’s Secretary of State for Tourism, Ana Mendes Godinho,.

According to Mendes Godinho, the agreement is a historical one as Portuguese businessmen are interested in investing in Cuba and accompanying its development, adding that the positive political relations between the two countries, “were increasingly strengthened in the last year.”

Mendes Godinho , who was here on a two day visit, argued that the legal document will also enable the formation of students and the exchange of experiences between the two nations.

Her Cuban counterpart noted that Portugal has 12 public tourism schools, considered among the best in Europe, which can contribute to the training of Cuban personnel.

Marrero said that this step creates a new stage for joint work on issues such as the use of the Portuguese experience in the sector, useful at a time when Cuba is experiencing a remarkable growth in the so-called leisure industry.

She emphasized that the Caribbean island is currently in the international eye, while new business opportunities are opening up.

According to the Cuban minister, tourism can be an important element to further strengthen the ties between the two countries.

During the meeting, it was also disclosed that 4,035,577 tourists visited Cuba in 2016.

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Twitter defied a U.S. government request for records that could identify users behind an account opposed to President Donald Trump, and is challenging that order in court.

The company filed its lawsuit Thursday in a San Francisco federal court against the federal Department of Homeland Security and its Customs and Border Protection office, charging that their efforts to "unmask" the people behind the account violate the First Amendment.

Twitter said its users have a constitutional right to disseminate such "anonymous and pseudonymous political speech." It declined to comment beyond the lawsuit. DHS likewise declined to comment.

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