Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Vasant Bharath delivers his address at the Business Forum, Beijing
BEIJING, China -- China has great potential for opening new markets for Trinidad and Tobago’s manufacturers and service providers, providing foreign direct investments and technology, according to Senator Vasant Bharath, minister of trade, industry and investment and minister in the ministry of finance and the economy.
“We are therefore determined to ensure that our 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. Likewise your firms can benefit by using Trinidad and Tobago’s strategic location to access the enormous markets within the Americas,” he said at the opening of the first business forum held at the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) hosted by invest in Beijing on Tuesday.
The business forum, the first of three to be held in China during this week, attracted some 140 Chinese businessmen and investors.
In his address, Bharath identified the benefits of investing in Trinidad and Tobago to investors, stating that “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$5.0 billion. 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,” he continued.
Bharath briefly outlined the collaborative projects between the governments of Trinidad and Tobago and China, stating that “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 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.”
In conclusion, the trade minister shared that “coupled with the developmental work taking place, the ministry continues to work towards removing the bureaucratic obstacles and cutting unnecessary red tape so much so that two weeks ago, the ministry launched a national advertising campaign ‘from red tape to red carpet’ to promote the collaborative successes we have had.”
Delivering the feature address at the first business forum, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar noted that “the fact that this year, Trinidad and Tobago and the People’s Republic of China celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations serves to further highlight our enduring relations, and determination to build new meaningful and mutually beneficial relations.”
The prime minister said, “Today’s global economy is evolving in such a way that no nation which is aggressively moving to build and grow can overlook the promise of the People’s Republic of China. Trinidad and 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, on Wednesday 26 February, 2014. This builds on our present strong relations which has in part manifested itself with economic and technical support.”
Delivering brief remarks at the session, Racquel Moses, president of invesTT Limited, highlighted the key sectors of investment based on the government’s diversification thrust including maritime; downstream energy; food sustainability; creative industries (film, fashion, music); tourism; 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.
Two more business forums are scheduled to be held in Shanghai on Thursday 27 February and in Guangzhou on Friday 28 February.