Vasant Bharath said in China on Tuesday The People’s Republic of China has great potential for opening new markets for Trinidad and Tobago’s manufacturers and service providers, providing foreign direct investments and technology.
The Trade and Investment Minister made the point at the first of three business seminars that his ministry is hosting during the state visit to China by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Speaking at the opening of the first Business Forum at the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) hosted by invesTT on Tuesday Bharath said Trinidad and Tobago is determined to ensure that its economic horizon expands to the Far East.
“We believe that Joint Ventures and Strategic Alliances will be important modes of engagement for our firms for increasing their competitiveness and developing new products,” he told his audience of scores of Chinese business people and investors. “Likewise your firms can benefit by using Trinidad and Tobago’s strategic location to access the enormous markets within the Americas,” Bharath added.
The minister identified the benefits of investing in Trinidad and Tobago. He told potential business investors, “Trinidad and Tobago has experienced an annual average growth rate of approximately 3.0% over the last ten years; our gross domestic product was approximately $83.6 Billion Yuan and by the end of 2013, that figure increased to $165 Billion Yuan.
“The economic and financial buffers of the country have also remained strong and resilient. Foreign exchange reserves remain healthy and our Heritage and Stabilization Fund continues to grow and currently stand in excess of US$5.0B. Unemployment remains low at just over 5%, and only just recently, both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s reaffirmed the country’s international credit ratings.”
Bharath briefly outlined the collaborative projects between the T&T Government and the People’s Republic of China. “Our Government is seeking to expand the physical infrastructure of the country in partnership with many of China’s leading construction companies to provide seven new special economic zones which will have all of the modern facilities to develop several new industries,” he said.
He added, “We are also collaborating with China to develop a new transshipment port and dry docking facilities in South West Trinidad. As you know, the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2015 will bring about significant changes in trade routes and size and number of container vessels, as well as an increased demand for transshipment and dry docking services from the Caribbean.”
He notes that his ministry continues to remove the bureaucratic obstacles and cut unnecessary red tape. Two weeks ago, he said, the ministry launched a national advertising campaign “From Red Tape to Red Carpet” to promote the collaborative successes.
In the feature address, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar noted the celebration of 40 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries and said it highlights “our enduring relations, and determination to build new meaningful and mutually beneficial relations.”
She added that today’s global economy is evolving in such a way that no nation that is aggressively moving to build and grow can overlook the promise of the People’s Republic of China. “Trinidad & Tobago has not only recognised that fact, but has moved to consolidate its relationship with the People’s Republic of China with the opening of our first Embassy in Beijing,” she said. That event is scheduled for Wednesday to provide economic and technical support.
The President of InvestTT, Racquel Moses, highlighted the key sectors of investment based on the Government’s diversification thrust including:
- Downstream Energy
- Food Sustainability
- Creative Industries (film, fashion, music)
- Sports and Financial Services
She called on potential investors to Trinidad and Tobago to take advantage of the opportunity the Business Forum presented to network and establish trading and business links to stimulate economic activity’.
A second business forum is scheduled for Thursday in Shanghai and the third and final one would be in the city of Guangzhou on Friday.