“Trinidad and Tobago,” I patiently repeated for the second time.
“What?” She frustratingly retorted.
This year will see a large trade delegation of Venezuelans coming to T&T for the Trade and Investment Convention (TIC), said Ramesh Ramdeen, chief executive officer of the T&T Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA).
Although both countries are geographically close—11 kilometres apart—the relationship has always focused on energy and not much other commercial relations.
But this has begun to change.
During a visit to Trinidad in 2013, Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro gave Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar a gift of a computer tablet and mobile phone assembled by the company, Venezuelan Industrial Technology (VIT), which manufactures computers and cellphones, and is an emblem of Venezuela’s light industrial base.
“We have a really big delegation coming from Venezuela this year. The Government of Venezuela is trying to spread its wings throughout the Caribbean. So recently at the Jamaican Trade Show, they had a significant amount of booths, and they have also targeted T&T as well as Guyana. Guyana’s Trade Show is in October and ours is in July. We are advised that the Venezuelans will place a lot of emphasis on the T&T market,” Ramdeen told the Business Guardian.
He said it is not only about the Venezuelans selling their goods to T&T, but they also want to source products from T&T.
“According to the last check, we have 21 people coming to exhibit and to do joint ventures and partnership. They have taken three large pavilions to house 21 people. We have about 42 people in terms of investors and buyers. So in total, about 60 people would be coming thus far. The profile shows that a significant amount is in the energy and downstream sectors, food and beverages, paper and construction. Those are the four main areas. In the area of construction, one Venezuelan company is in the area of bricks and building,” Ramdeen said.
Nicholas Lok Jack, president of the TTMA, who was also part of the interview said Venezuelan businesses have invested in Colombia, Panama and other regional countries.
“We cannot turn our eyes away from Venezuelan capital. The people who are coming to invest are good, solid businesspeople for years and are looking to spread their wings internationally,” he said.