Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon. –
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO is focused on diversifying and transforming its economy for sustained economic recovery, said Minister of Trade and Investment Paula Gopee-Scoon.
Speaking virtually at the Business Forum Expo 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday, she said the event was timely as it gave TT a chance to highlight its attractive trade and investment destination, in a global economy that continued to grapple with disruptions to foreign trade and investments.
TT hosted the Business Forum in collaboration with exporTT and invesTT to promote its competitive advantages, attractive investment climate, and feature business and investment opportunities in the manufacturing, energy and tourism sectors.
The World Expo 2020 is themed Connecting Minds, Creating the Future and has over 190 participating countries. It began in October 2021 and concludes on March 31.
Gopee-Scoon said TT’s location was perfect for trading to the Americas and boasted of an attractive investment climate in industries such as manufacturing, renewable and sustainable energy, maritime, ICT, logistics and distribution, agro-processing, tourism and hotel development, business-process outsourcing and the creative industries.
“Countries all over the world have had to re-engineer and adapt to accelerate their recovery process. TT is the most vibrant economy and major business hub in the Caribbean, with a GDP per capita of US$17,013.”
She pointed out that the manufacturing sector contributed 20 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP), which was derived from industries such as food and beverage, printing and packaging, chemicals, personal care, construction supplies and agricultural products.
“Among our more highly sought-after products are the world-renowned Angostura bitters, Trinitario cocoa and hot peppers. The Government is committed to positioning TT as a notable trading partner on the global market. Therefore, one of the main thrusts is ensuring that our eligible manufacturers meet international standards and requirements.”
Gopee-Scoon said TT’s trade agreements provided market opportunities for local goods and services, investors with access to a consumer market of close to one billion and access to 14 Caricom markets.
“Additional access is facilitated through bilateral agreements with major regional countries such as US, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Venezuela. We are also a recognised member of many major international associations including the UN, the Organization of American States and the World Trade Organization.
“The Government is currently rolling out its recently updated special economic zones policy, which will ensure that businesses operating within any of the zones benefit from a mix of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, including reduced corporation tax, enhanced allowances and exemptions on value-added tax, customs duty and property tax.”
Additionally, she said TT’s land, air and sea infrastructure provided ideal ways to send and receive shipments from the Far East/Asia through the Panama Canal, the continental US via eastern coastal ports and presented investor opportunities and expansion into the Latin American and US markets.
ExporTT Ltd, Gopee-Scoon said, worked closely with manufacturers for international trade certifications such as hazard analysis critical control points, International Standards Organisation, product testing and modification for different markets.
With a very skilled workforce, she said, TT has exported expertise in sectors such as energy services, ICT, professional services, tourism and yachting fashion, film and music.
“We have a well-established and vibrant history in hydrocarbons, which has positioned us as a leading commercial hub and the most cost-effective nation in the region.”
Gopee-Scoon added that Tobago was the ultimate island paradise, with tremendous cultural capital and extensive eco- and leisure tourism opportunities.
On Friday, TT will host National Day, highlighting its music, dance, drama, and culture, creativity and diversity through performances involving steelpan, chutney, calypso and parang, carnival, Christmas and Ramleela.
The delegation included TT’s High Commissioner to the UK and Northern Ireland Vishnu Dhanpaul; deputy chief secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly Watson Duke; permanent secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Simone Thorne-Mora Quinones, who also heads the cultural contingent; senior technical adviser in the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Carla Cupid; chairman of Tourism Trinidad Ltd Clifford Hamilton; general manager, exporTT, Dhanraj Harrypersad; vice president of investments at invesTT Pramilla Ramdahani; and CEO of Tobago Tourism Agency Louis Lewis.