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Cadiz: New incentives for exporters
Trade and Industry Minister Stephen Cadiz said one of his ministry’s 2011 plans is to change the duty waiver on imports of raw materials from an annual approval to a five-year period. He said this initiative was in an effort to address the issues by the business community regarding doing business in T&T.
He added that the ministry has made a proposal for a tax incentive for all costs associated with the export promotion of locally manufactured good and services. Cadiz said the details for these initiatives would soon be worked out.
Among the other initiatives was the establishment of an EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement) Implementation Unit by February. He also noted that T&T would host two major business forums this year, the Commonwealth Business Forum and the Caribbean/China Forum, which will focus on doing business in T&T and the Caricom territories. He said the ministry will be the facilitator, with the major costs being borne by participants. Cadiz said it takes time to rebuild investor confidence and the Government was committed to doing so. “We have in excess of $1 billion committed to non-energy investments in the first quarter of 2011, all by local companies,” Cadiz said.
“This, of course, does not include any foreign direct investment in energy-related projects,” he said.
With regards to the Free Zone Company, Cadiz said the Government removed the cap of US$50 million as the maximum investment allowed under the Foreign Investment Act. “This will create additional opportunities for investment in a number of different areas and we are looking at the current Act to ensure that it meets the needs of the local and foreign investors.”
Regarding the issue of diversification, Cadiz said it was very difficult to achieve, especially when the economy is, and has been, based on natural resources. “However, it must be done and the ministry has a number of sectors that we are working with to assist in the diversification process,” Cadiz said. Some sectors he outlined are:
1. Ship building and repair. “We have five serious proposals, both local and foreign interests, from established companies already in the business who are ready to make the necessary investment in this very important sector,” Cadiz noted. Therefore, he said the ministry hopes to determine who the participants would be in the first quarter of 2011.
2. The fashion and garment industry. He said this industry could be a major contributor to economic activity in T&T, where thousands of persons could be employed. The fashion industry, he said, would require a different approach as the world markets have changed the industry. “But, in spite of the world trends, we have a number of local businessmen, albeit limited, who have made substantial investments in this industry and have done extremely well,” Cadiz added.
3. Printing and packaging: Cadiz said this industry goes hand in hand with the local manufacturers and the country needs to produce better quality items where it no longer has to import from extraregional sources. “We can do it here, but it requires further investment in plant and human resource,” he said.
Cadiz also noted that horse-racing would be run as an industry and there would be major structural changes to the T&T Racing Authority (TTRA). He added that a new TTRA board has been appointed.
In addition, his ministry would be bringing to Cabinet recommendations for the regularisation of the gaming industry, which he believes complements horse-racing.
“We have already started to meet the various stakeholders and will continue to do so in 2011.”
Regarding the yachting industry, Cadiz said in the past, it has provided more than 1,500 jobs, mainly self-employed and small business. The yachting industry contributed more than (US)$40 million to the gross domestic product. He said the industry has been in decline over the last few years, but his ministry has met with a number of stakeholders and identified the main areas of concern. The Ministry of Trade and Industry is currently working with various state agencies to bring about change to the yachting industry.
4. Film and entertainment sectors: Cadiz said sectors both have the capacity to create thousands of jobs that would harness the “creative genius” of people and contribute to an increase in overall economic activity. “At a recently held conference on animation, Animae Caribe, it was noted that this industry is a trillion US-dollar business worldwide and that we need to take advantage of this.”
He said that India, for instance, went from practically no animation business ten years ago to a current $40 billion industry annually. “We have the capacity and creative talent to make both entertainment and film major contributors to our economy.”
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