To the untrained eye, it would appear that the sentiments of doom and gloom are all that there is to the T&T economy right now.
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Call for stronger UK/T&T services links
British High Commissioner to T&T Tim Stew wants to strengthen the relationship between the two countries via the services sector.
In the feature address at the T&T Coalition of Service Industries’ (TTCSI) ninth Annual General Meeting at the Trinidad Hilton and Conference Centre, Stew said: “I can safely claim that Britain and Trinidad and Tobago enjoy a strong partnership in the services sector.”
He pointed to the education sector, where they worked closely with local training providers such as the Kenson School of Production and Technology, the Automation Technology, and Trinzuela Colleges, to offer City and Guilds and Institute of Leadership and Management courses. The financial-related services also play a key role in the relationship, he added.
In the energy sector, Stew said Britain has transferred significant knowledge and skills through firms such as Stork Technical Services, Bibby Offshore, and Peterson Logistics, companies have long-standing investments in T&T and significant local employment.
He added that these links have built relationships beyond T&T’s borders, as they have helped Kenson and Hummingbird Helicopter Services connect with the Falkland Islands’ energy sector, which is still in its infancy.
“These links led to the export of services, translating into significant revenue and economic growth,” Stew said. He noted that these were just a few examples of Britain’s work in T&T and said he is ready to take it to another level.
“My team at the British High Commission is ready to build further on this. To support your organisation with training, guidance, expertise and experience in how to further develop the services sector here,” he said.
Stew said Britain is the second largest exporter of services in the world after the United States with “the biggest share of financial service exports by some way at 29 per cent in recent years.”
This driven significant foreign direct investment with foreign companies investing more than £100 billion in Britain over the last nine years, the High Commissioner said.
Stew said strong growth and development of Britain’s service sector was brought about by technological and social developments, innovation and invention. He said,the service sector is not only contributing to Britain’s stable economy, but “is also making a strong contribution to a stable global economy.”
While diversification into the services sector would take time, he noted, it is mainly driven by invention and innovation. Referencing Britain, he said, in 1841 most of the working population- 36 per cent- worked in the manufacturing sector, while 33 per cent in services. Forty years later, that changed and from 1961 the gap between services and manufacturing began to widen. By 2011, more than 80 per cent of British workers were employed in services and less than one per cent in manufacturing.
TTCSI president Angela Lee Loy said the greater part of T&T’s population works in the service sector. In the first quarter of 2015 approximately 83 per cent of all workers were employed in that sector, with the majority in personal services, wholesale and retail trade and constructions services, according to Central Bank. She said, T&T must move towards realising the full potential of its service sector.
“There is no better time than the present to create an enabling environment to encourage and attract sustainable investments which would put the sector on the right path for growth and development,” she said.