PS: Foreign Ministry leads efforts to promote Trinidad and Tobago abroad

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs permanent secretary Reita Toussaint – File photo by Roger Jacob

MINISTRY of Foreign and Caricom Affairs permanent secretary Reita Toussaint says her ministry is spearheading efforts to promote the nation’s cultural heritage and tourism offerings worldwide.

She made these remarks at the 14th meeting of a joint select committee, held virtually on Wednesday, to discuss the country’s efficacy and cultural-diplomacy initiatives.

The meeting, chaired by Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon, underscored the central role of cultural diplomacy in Trinidad and Tobago’s foreign policy, aiming to assist positions and realise the ministry’s fullest potential while showcasing the nation’s diversity and creativity to the world.

Toussaint said the ministry is leveraging cultural elements, features and artefacts to foster diplomatic relationships and promote culture, cultural products and tourism on the global stage.

However, she acknowledged the challenge of precisely measuring the impact of these endeavours, citing the need for a more strategic approach.

A standout topic during the discussion was the recent agreement secured for World Steelpan Day. Toussaint described this achievement as an example of the dedicated efforts of the ministry’s team, both at home and abroad, saying this milestone not only celebrated the legacy of the pan but also exemplified Trinidad and Tobago’s ability to leverage its cultural assets to forge international partnerships and garner interest in its cultural offerings.

Looking ahead, she proposed strengthening cultural diplomacy through the strategic assignment of cultural attachés to key diplomatic missions abroad. By expanding the presence of cultural products in locations with significant Caribbean populations, the ministry aims to amplify the country’s cultural outreach and capitalise on opportunities for cultural and tourism promotion.

Toussaint stressed the importance of strategic partnerships with both the public and private sectors to enhance the country’s cultural profile on the global stage, saying with events like World Steelpan Day, the nation seeks not only to showcase the pan but also to broaden opportunities for involvement in other cultural activities, such as festivals and the arts.

In addition to promoting cultural exports, Toussaint stressed the role of cultural diplomacy in fostering collaboration with other states and the significance of informal exchanges, such as hosting national day events, in providing foreign counterparts with a deeper understanding of Trinidad and Tobago’s rich cultural heritage.

Addressing the need for co-ordination between ministries, she discussed collaborative efforts between the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in promoting cultural initiatives and said plans are under way to expand World Steelpan Day beyond the mere celebration, incorporating trade and cultural exchange activities to further elevate cultural exports on the global stage.