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TTMA optimistic about more trade with Venezuela
President of the T&T Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) Nicholas Lok Jack is optimistic about the potential for increased trade between T&T and Venezuela. Commenting on Venezuela’s participation in the 15th annual Trade and Investment Convention (TIC) at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya, in July, Lok Jack said the business opportunities for this country and Venezuela were now clearer.
In his review of TIC 2014, Lok Jack said Venezuela, with a population of just over 20 million, was right at this country’s doorstep and sustainable trade should be encouraged. Lok Jack said the foreign contingent left T&T satisfied that they had had a good show and the exhibitors had preliminary figures in terms of what they believed they had accomplished.
“If you get ten to 15 per cent being converted into actual business then it is really worth it for the exhibitor and for us as promoters of economic trade and commerce,” he said. “Venezuela had a great pavilion. What it shows is that Venezuela is open for trade and two-way trade. Our issue is getting security of payment. That is something that we have been speaking to the Minister of Trade and the Minister of Finance about.
“Is Exim Bank going to be facilitating trade facilities to Venezuela? That’s important because there is a market of 20 million people at our doorstep. How do we attend to them? They have needs, we have products. We have no problem trading two-way, but let’s see if we can get that started to build the confidence going forward.
“Any business person will be weighing multiple factors. They will be thinking about crime, they will be thinking about risk, they will be thinking about return. They will be thinking about what the market potential has and what they can earn out of it. We need to know how investors weigh our country. How do we reduce any one of the risks? The more risk we can reduce makes us more attractive.”
Lok Jack said Venezuela’s appetite for consumer goods and T&T’s readiness to meet those needs were not the only things on his mind. There were also the major triumphs for TIC—attracting over 100 per cent of the exhibitors invited, and more than 50 per cent new buyers, while providing fertile ground for SMEs.
“TIC was aimed at helping SMEs build capacity. What we can’t do is promise SMEs business, because they are small. All businesses started small, but I have seen some very innovative things. People are bringing unique products with world-class packaging. SMEs need to understand that in highly regulated industries such as food and beverage they have to start from the ground with proper operations, proper standards and really move it from there.”