A call for collaboration from PoS’ Trade & Industry Minister to Trinidadian businessmen
“(Port Of Spain) views the business community as equal partners with whom we must continuously collaborate, to ensure that your goals and the economic and social agenda for the future, converge. There is work to be done. You have been the engine of social and economic development and I want to assure you that this Government will continue to collaborate with you as we both seek to make Trinidad and Tobago‘s trade performance and industry the envy of the world. We see you as our critical partners in success“, were the words of Minister of Trade and Industry, Senator Paula Gopee-Scoon to members of the business community. The Minister was addressing local businessmen and women of the American Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago at a Business Seminar, titled ‘Doing Business in Latin America‘ at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
The Seminar titled was aimed at reinforcing the private sector’s orientation on the importance of doing business outside Trinidad Tobago and the wider Caribbean Region. The Minister sought to share, with the packed audience in a broad sense, the government’s plans and initiatives for trade and industry. She impressed upon the business community, “the need for us to find new markets and new opportunities to generate economic wealth for our country“. Noting that “Trinidad and Tobago’s bilateral trade agenda is premised on securing enhanced market access for local exporters of both goods and services“.
It was highlighted that “since the 1990s, the country has recognised the need to take advantage of the significant market access opportunities in Latin America when, as part of CARICOM, it engaged Colombia, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic for enhanced trading arrangements. This orientation was later strengthened with the negotiation of Free Trade Agreements with Cuba and Costa Rica in 2000 and 2004 respectively. These agreements provide reciprocal market access with a reduction/elimination of tariffs on selected products in the markets of the more-developed countries (MDCs) CARICOM countries (Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago). These agreements have built-in agendas for treatment of services and other trade issues. As you are aware, Trinidad and Tobago has also recently sustained the engagement with Latin America through the negotiation of three Partial Scope Trade Agreements with Panama, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Over the years, we have also signed Bilateral Investment Treaties and Double Taxation Agreements with Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Brazil and Guatemala“.
Minister Gopee-Scoon premised that “the Government is well aware that market access is not the same as market presence. In fact, based on data obtained from exporTT, while there are over 200 exporters to CARICOM and North America (where preferential markets exist), there are less than 15 domestic firms exporting to Latin America. The Government believes that market presence in Latin America can only be achieved through a sustained programme to rebuild and sustain our manufacturing and services sectors; “We intend to listen” she emphasised.
Key members of the audience included Ms. Catalina Herrera Roca, Vice President, American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago; Mr. Nirad Tewarie, Chief Executive Officer, American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago and Chairperson of this morning’s Business Workshop; Mr. Iwan Misir, Country Manager, Andean Development Bank; and Mr. Hugh Howard, Immediate Past President of AmChamTT.