Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 2nd 2015 Contents APRIL 2015 • WEEK ONE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG5
According to the Government Information Service Ltd (GISL)
Dookeran officially signed the completion of the partial scope
trade agreement between T&T and Guatemala on February
6. Negotiations for a Partial Scope Trade Agreement commenced
in Port-of-Spain during the period April 11 and were finalised
on August 13, 2013 by both parties.
The agreement was subsequently certified by Caricom and
it will provide exporters and service providers of T&T with
new markets for their goods and services, and will allow for
a number of products and services from T&T to enter the
Guatemalan market at either reduced or zero tariffs.
Castillo spoke to the Business Guardian last week Wednesday
at the Embassy of Guatemala, Regents Tower, Westmoorings.
Castillo said the partial scope agreement is important in
expanding products traded between the two countries.
"It will develop our economies, not only on the Guatemalan
side but also on T&T s side."
He explained that currently there are products traded between
the both countries but the Partial Scope Agreement does not
cover already traded products but new products.
The reason for this is to give impetus to new areas for growth
"Guatemala granted 141 new products under preferential
tariffs. The tariffs granted from Trinidad to be exported to
Guatemala include vegetables, fruits, concentrated juices, dog
and cat food, lubricated oil, oils for agriculture. As for goods
to be exported from Guatemala to T&T, these include cut
meats, cheese, a variety of flowers like roses, vegetables like
cabbage, cucumber, fruits, and medicines."
He gave the balance of trade statistics for both countries in
2014 which showed that balance was in T&T s favour.
In 2014, T&T exported US $81,484,182 worth of goods to
Guatemala while Guatemala exported US $15,884,899 worth
of goods to T&T.
T&T s exports to Guatemala include bunker fuel, diesel oil,
propane, steel, beverages, metal furniture and housing mate-
Guatemala s export to T&T include sugar cane, water and
water minerals, machines, toothpastes and paper products.
"T&T is selling more goods to Guatemala than Guatemala
to T&T. The reason for this balance of trade in T&T favour
is because of T&T s export of oil and gas products to Guatemala."
Castillo said trade with T&T is very important because
Guatemala sees T&T as a conduit to the rest of the Caribbean
"T&T is an important place to do business in the region
and has the most important economy. Our embassy in T&T
has been here for 13 years. T&T has had traditional ties with
Europe and the United States but needs to look at Latin
America. The other day I found Guatemalan coffee in a super-
market in Trinidad, and the owner of the supermarket said
he bought it in the United States. So why can t they buy that
coffee directly from Guatemala where it is produced? I also
saw soaps made in Guatemala, but the stores in T&T bought
it in London. This soap costs TT$60 to TT$80. If it were
shipped directly from Guatemala, the business owners here
could sell it at a retail price of TT $20."
He added: "As long as T&T has oil and gas, it is significant
He also said Guatemala can help solve T&T s labour short-
Guatemala supplies skilled labour to Canada annually and
can do the same for T&T.
"The other day we read in the newspaper of a shortage of
labour in T&T. Why can t T&T look at Guatemala for its
labour? We are going to bring up this idea with the T&T
Chamber of Commerce. We signed an agreement with Canada
where we send workers to work for a period of time and they
return to Guatemala. We can do the same with T&T and is
closer to us.
"Digicel needed workers to run their cables and 80
Guatemalans came here and returned home after a couple
months when they completed the job," he said.
He also said not many nationals of T&T can speak Spanish
but it is not a big problem for Guatemalans as most of the
business executives have been trained in the United States
and speak English.
"The people coming from Guatemala must speak English
in order to do the work. One of the projects of the Arthur Lok
Jack School is that they send students to Guatemala to study
According to Castillo, Guatemala with a population of 15
million has Central America s largest economy within Latin
America. Globally it is a top producer of many agricultural
and manufactured products.
"Traditionally Guatemala has economic and trade ties with
Central America, Mexico and the United States. Right now
we are working with Mexico on gas projects because we are
closer. But T&T also has gas and has the potential for co-
operation with Guatemala in this area. Guatemala has petroleum
but not as much as T&T."
According to information Castillo provided, Guatemala is
a leader in several exports globally:
• No 1 exporter of snow peas to the United States
• No 1 exporter of cardamom in the world
• No 1 exporter of poinsettia cuttings in the world
• No 1 supplier of Yamaha wooden keys and Gibson gui-
• No 1 supplier of coffee for Starbucks coffee
• No 8 exporter of bananas in the world
Other statistics provided by the Guatemalan Embassy shows
that Guatemala s reserves are US$7.3 billion, it is the least
indebted country in Central America with debt being 22.3 per
cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) and its GDP growth
was four per cent in 2014 and expects growth of 3.5 to 4.1
per cent in 2015.
Continued from Page 4
T&T products and services to enter
Guatemala at reduced or zero tariffs
Brands and 57 per cent of Home Construction---
is probably worth $4 billion. On Tuesday, CL
Financial s stake in Angostura was worth close
to $1.3 billion (92,551,212 X $14).
Do the Governor and the Minister think that
they can sell a resolution of this issue to the
public that allows the shareholders of CL Financial
to walk away with shares valued $4 billion, which
is more than twice the $1.6 billion Ernst&Young
estimated the CL Financial shareholders would
have received from the Note that was taken to
Cabinet in July 2013?
When will taxpayers be repaid in full?
According to the Governor: "The second phase
of Central Bank s Clico Resolution Plan will meet
the remaining 15 per cent of the claims of the
Government and the balance of non-assenting
STIPs policyholders on Clico s Statutory Fund.
"This payout will be funded from the proceeds
of the sale of Clico s 57 per cent shareholding in
Methanol Holdings (International) Limited (MHIL).
This sale, which is expected to realize proceeds
in the region of at least $2 billion, will be subject
to an independent valuation and done in accor-
dance with the MHIL Shareholders Agreement.
"This second payout will clear Clico s debt to
all its Statutory Fund creditors and leave sufficient
assets to fully and appropriately cover the needs
of Clico s traditional policyholders. The timing
of this second payout will of course be dependent
on the sale of MHIL."
The Governor s three-phase repayment
approach envisaged that at the end of phase three
it would have accounted for all of Clico s statutory
fund and non-statutory fund creditors.
The Government would then be left with $5
billion of preference shares along with approxi-
mately $1 billion of accrued but unpaid dividends
on these preference shares. He said: "The projec-
tions suggest the residual assets of Clico would,
when ultimately realized, likely be sufficient to
fully repay this $6 billion liability to Government."
The Minister of Finance, on Friday, suggested
that this process of repaying the $6 billion could
take as long as ten years. Is it fair that the CL
Financial shareholders get assets worth $4 billion,
while taxpayers have to wait up to ten years to
be made fully whole?
Disclosure: The author of this commentary is a
minority shareholder of Angostura Holdings Ltd.
When will taxpayers
be repaid in full?
Continued from Page 3
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