Gopee-Scoon: Trinidad and Tobago poised to become investment hub

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon speaks at Phoenix Park Industrial Estate’s opening on January 10. – Lincoln Holder

TRADE and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said the Phoenix Park Industrial Estate opens doors to many economic opportuniies for TT.

She expressed this view at the opening of the estate in Pt Lisas on Wednesday. The construction of the estate began in January 2020.

“The opening of this world class industrial park, will position Trinidad and Tobago as an attractive investment hub and manufacturing base within the Americas.”

Gopee-Scoon said investment remains an important catalyst for economic transformation and diversfication.

“In fiscal 2023, we had 30 closed and operational investments valued at approximately $1.7 billion generating 1,982 jobs. What is more, is that we also had 40 major reinvestments by manufacturers to the tune of $1.4 billion, expected to generate at least 923 jobs.”

Gopee-Scoon said, “These positive investment figures are as a result of intentional policies and initiatives undertaken by Government, one of which is the development of industrial parks.”

She added that the estate is poised to become a hub of economic activity, innovation and employment opportunities

“To date, 18 investments have been committed for the PPIE (Phoenix Park Industrial Estate) which amount to a total investment of $458.5 million and an expected job creation of 861 jobs, in addition to a data centre which will be built through the Ministry of Digital Transformation.”

Gopee-Scoon said these investors occupy two thirds of the lots and leasable space on the estate.

Chinese Ambassador Fang Qui said in Chinese culture, the phoenx symbolises the sun and unquenchable vigor.

“It perfectly resembles the development of our bilateral relationship.”

He reminded his audience that the estate’s genesis came from the Prime Minister signing a memorandum of understanding in Beijing in 2018, that made TT the first English-speaking Caribbean country to sign on to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

“In 2019, TT became the first Caricom country whose trade volume with China surpasses US$1 billion dollars. By 2022, our bilateral trade volume exceeded US$1.31 billion, more than doubling the value prior to joining the BRI.”

Qui was confident that the commissioning of the estate will attract growing interest from Chinese businesses, which will provide stronger momentum for the China-TT investment cooperation.

He agreed with the Prime Minister that the commissioning of the estate was timely as this year marks the 50th anniversary of TT-China diplomatic relations.

“At the important juncture of the golden jubilee of bilateral relations, China envisions deepening our ties in the next 50 years for the betterment of our peoples.”

Beijing Construction Group deputy general manager He Haiqi said during the estate’s construction, 95 per cent of the workers, more than 90 per cent of the subcontractors and over 60 per cent of the material suppliers were local.

“Our Chinese team has established strong bonds with our colleagues from Trinidad and Tobago. This integration is not just about co-operation in engineering but also an exchange and fusion of cultures.”

During the estate’s opening, four people staged a placard protest outside the main gate.

One of them later told Newsday, the protest was about money that was unpaid to some of the contractors.

The protestor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said efforts were being made to meet with BECG to address the matter.

The protestor could not say how many contractors were involved.