Senior multimedia reporter
If T&T is to further propel the manufacturing sector on its upward trajectory, the critical question to be asked is how can this country take advantage of the changing economic landscape, while continuing to pursue new opportunities to bolster resilience, agility and growth.
Making the statements was Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon who spoke at the President’s Dinner and Awards Ceremony, which was hosted by the T&T Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) on Tuesday night.
In citing statistics, the minister noted that according to the Review of the Economy 2023, the output of T&T’s non-energy manufacturing sector (ie manufacturing less petroleum and chemical products) stood at $15.7 billion in 2022.
She added that the food and beverage sub-sector was one of the main contributors to the manufacturing sector’s performance, with an output of $ 12.6 billion in 2022.
The minister also cited the World Economic Forum, which noted that global industries were undergoing transformative shifts as a result of four key megatrends including supply chain issues, technology integration and changing people dynamics, climate change and sustainability.
On the issue of supply chains, Gopee-Scoon said geopolitical tensions with resultant disruptive threats have forced firms to rethink their supply chains.
“We are still feeling the effects of supply chain challenges that began in 2020 with the pandemic and were further exacerbated by other global events including the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine and the current turmoil in the Middle East,” she explained.
Therefore, Gopee-Scoon added, nearshoring and reshoring were now necessary for supply chain resilience.
She also noted that production closer to consumers is becoming more common, as well as the creation of products by customers, adding that several local manufacturers understand this and are already capitalising on opportunities and by example, are engaging in contract manufacturing.
To further secure the growth of the sector and boost supply chain resilience, Gopee-Scoon advised that the deepening of regional supply chains remains critical.
Regarding technology, the minister said the companies that will excel are those that can attract, develop and retain the highest skilled talent and innovate to stay ahead of the competition.
Quality is also critical in increasing exports.
“Our manufactured products must meet and even exceed customers’ expectations. Improving the quality and reliability of Trinidad and Tobago’s products will not only allow for repeat business, but will build this country’s international brand and reputation,” Gopee-Scoon further advised.
Also high on the agenda is climate change which can affect the sector.
The minister noted that climate change is a threat that is forcing manufacturers globally to change their production processes and the types of products they produce.
“As such, responsible production practices are no longer an ethical choice, they have become strategic imperatives,” the minister urged.