CEDA head: Trinidad and Tobago has much to offer investors

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

CEDA executive director Deodat Maharaj.

CARIBBEAN Export Development Agency (CEDA) executive director Deodat Maharaj has said Trinidad and Tobago has much to offer potential investors, apart from oil and natural gas.

He made this observation when he addressed the 2021 virtual investment forum on Tuesday.

Maharaj said the economic challenges created by the covid19 pandemic underscored the importance of economic diversification to all nations. In the Caribbean, Maharaj said, TT and other countries must “diversify their economies and look towards new sectors as sources of investment, job creation and economic growth.”

While TT can no longer heavily depend on the energy sector for future growth prospects, Maharaj said. “The good news is, TT certainly has a great deal to offer investors across sectors.”

He identified business process outsourcing, manufacturing/renewable energy, and hotel development, amongst the sectors where investment opportunities exist.

Referring to the COP26 summit, which entered its final day on Tuesday, Maharaj said, “I also needed to emphasise the opportunities and market available for a green economy transition both here in TT and across the Caribbean, using Port of Spain as a beachhead to the rest of the Caribbean and further afield.”

He said TT “can also serve as a beachhead to lucrative markets such as the more than 600 million European Union market, given existing trade agreements.”

Maharaj said TT and the rest of the Caribbean can count on CEDA’s unreserved support.

“Our sustained focus is to help create jobs and opportunity for our people to build a resilient TT and a resilient Caribbean.”

He was pleased that the forum was able to attract over 750 participants from 67 countries around the world.

EU Ambassador to TT Bruce Cavendish said the EU has had a fruitful relationship with TT over the last 45 years and invested some $2.3 billion in TT during that period. Cavendish added that the EU continues to do what it can to encourage investment in TT.

InvesTT chairman Franka Costelloe said TT continues to tell potential investors it is open for business.

“Barring the impact of the pandemic, 2021 will be our biggest annual success to date, closing at $265 million against a $135 million target.” Costelloe said the pipeline of investments for 2022 suggests “that we can expect more of the same, from both local and foreign investments.”

She added that one of the things that provide such an optimistic outlook for investment are efforts to improve TT’s digital infrastructure with the objective of improving the ease of doing business here.

TT Fine Cocoa Company founder Ashley Parasram said building in-country relationships with partners such as the Hyatt Regency and Hilton Hotels, Carib Brewery, Starbucks, Rituals and Bermudez, has helped the company to market TT’s fine cocoa. Parasram said last year, the company entered into a partnership with Harrods Stores in London for the marketing of its single-estate chocolate collection.