Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will lead a T&T delegation to China on an official visit next month to open an embassy, discuss the Chinese-financed US$1.5 billion port at La Brea, and encourage trade and investment. Trade Minister Vasant Bharath told reporters the visit will take place “around February 20”. In his address at the launch of the Trade and Investment Convention (TIC) 2014 at the Courtyard Marriott, Port-of-Spain, the minister invited manufacturers on the trip saying the private sector would be welcomed.
He said the visit “will open new avenues for doing business and allow for the private sector to form business ties and develop trading and diplomatic links with the Chinese”. Bharath said the Government will be focusing on the maritime sector as a rival to the energy sector in terms of revenue for the country. He said downstream projects and sport tourism were two other areas of focus on the Government’s trade and investment agenda.
The minister also said his Government has raised T&T from 88 to 66 in the global ranking for ease of doing business. He said he is aiming to get T&T into the top five in that ranking. “Government recognises that trade is an important driver of economic growth, poverty reduction and development. We are cognizant of the key role that trade policy has and continues to play in diversifying the export base; increasing global trade share; and effectively integrating the economy into the global trading system,” he said.
Bharath said the Ministry of Trade recently completed its Trade Policy for 2013-2017 with the overarching goal of ensuring the benefits of international trade contribute to the socio-economic development of T&T. “The policy will expand market access beyond our shores and provide a platform for manufacturers to get their products on the international stage and be exposed to new technologies and new ways of doing business,” he said.
Bharath used the opportunity to invite an El Salvadorian delegation, led by the Vice Minister of the Economy, Mario Roger Hernández to “get onboard in TIC 2014 and seize the opportunities presented to showcase what El Salvador has to offer to businesses/investors from all over the world”. The El Salvador was in T&T for the second round of negotiations of a partial scope agreement. T&T Manufacturers Association (TTMA) president Nicholas Lok Jack there were plans to have 750 buyers at TIC 2014.
“We will showcase as many of our local manufacturers as possible and highlight the future of the manufacturing sector.” he said. Lok Jack joined Bharath in calling on the business community to “seize the golden opportunity TIC presents to propel their business forward and let the world see what they have to offer”.
TSTT’s executive vice president Rakesh Goswami, who also addressed the launch, said: “The regulatory body for our industry, the Telecommunications Authority of T&T, made recent observations of the approximately three per cent that the local telecoms industry was contributing to national gross domestic product. “I might add that indirectly, through operational efficiencies and productivity increases made possible by the smart adoption of technology, our true impact on the country’s productivity will be much higher.”
Goswami described TIC as the single most important trade show in T&T and even the wider Caribbean and said blink/bmobile viewed the event as “the ideal place for the meeting of minds and business”. Goswami read his speech from his iPad while other speakers read from paper. When TTMA president Nicholas Lok Jack jokingly complained that the TSTT boss making him look “antiquated,” Goswami offered to send Lok Jack an iPad.
Larry Nath, Group CEO, First Citizens Bank said: “FCB’s involvement in TIC as an official sponsor is not accidental but in keeping with its mandate to grow business and investments in T&T”