Ways of improving trade between T&T and the European Union were the focus discussion when Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon and representatives from the ministry met with European Union Heads of Mission led by Ambassador Arend Biesebroek, Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to T&T.
The meeting was held with the intention of further collaborating in economic diplomacy aimed at promoting trade, investment and strengthening the relationship between the private sector in T&T and the EU.
Gopee-Scoon underscored the importance of the manufacturing sector and outlined the areas targeted for diversification of the economy, including agriculture, tourism, ICT, financial services, maritime and creative industries.
In respect of the maritime and creative industries, the minister mentioned the establishment of the Standing Committee for the Development of the Maritime Sector with a focus on ship repair and dry docking, bunkering, cold stacking, transhipment, yachting and marina development.
"With respect to the creative industries, the Government is committed to creating an environment to grow and develop the film, music and fashion industries. As such, plans are currently being developed for the film and music industries which will map the direction of these industries for the next five years, while the plan for the fashion industry is currently being implemented," she said.
The EU representatives welcomed the opportunity to co-operate with T&T to further develop the sectors highlighted. Discussions were also centered on the Cariforum-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) as it relates to market access for goods as well as services.
Gopee-Scoon referred to T&T's initiatives with respect to export development and market penetration and targeted markets of interest including diaspora markets such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.
Also discussed were key issues arising from the recent Sixth Meeting of the Cariforum-EU Trade and Development Committee related to implementation of the EPA, such as enhancing trade in services, funding under the European Development Programmes (EDF) for EPA implementation, agriculture and fishing, and negotiations aimed at an agreement on protection of geographical indications which are expected to conclude in mid-2017.
Gopee-Scoon also told the delegation about the completion of the first phase of the Tamana InTech Park where there are currently 20 lots available for investment. The areas of focus for the park are ICT, innovation, animation and high value manufacturing.
The EU delegation comprised five European Heads of Mission accredited to T&T–the United Kingdom, France, Germany, The Netherlands, and Spain–the regional trade affairs manager and trade pfficer from the EU Delegation to Barbados; the project officer; a junior EU professional; and the head of the European Business Chamber in T&T.