Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 9th 2015 Contents Spain can assist T&T in
further building its
said Jesus Manuel Gracia
Aldaz, Spain s Secretary
of State for Latin Amer-
ica and the Caribbean
and International Devel-
opment Cooperation. Substantiating his point,
he said, Spain has a successful agriculture
sector with the technical skills and knowledge,
and this means that one country can learn
from the next.
The agriculture sector in Spain, according
to Aldaz, contributes eight per cent of that
country s gross domestic product. According
to Spain s International Trade Report, in
March 2015, Spain s exports grew by 12.5 per
cent year-on-year in nominal terms to 23,218.3
Aldaz visited T&T in late June, to have a
first-hand look at T&T s economy. While
here, he met with Trade Minister Vasant
Bharath; Planning Minister Bhoe Tewarie,
and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dook-
eran. He spoke to the Business Guardian on
June 24 at Spain s embassy in Port-of-Spain,
which is located in the Tatil building.
In his home country, Aldaz is employed at
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has
responsibility for Spain s relations with Latin
America and the Caribbean. Comparing his
visit to T&T in 1999 with his June visit, he
described, as "impressive" how much Port-
of-Spain has developed.
Asked how deep Spain s roots are in the
Caribbean, he said: "First, in Jamaica in the
tourism sector, Spain s presence is strong. In
T&T, we have a presence in services and in
the oil and gas sector."
Spain was an observer at the just-concluded
Caricom Heads of Government Meeting in
According to Aldaz, Spain is one of the
world leaders in infrastructure. He said of
the 10 largest infrastructure companies in
the world, five of them are companies from
Spain. Businesses in the banking, telecom,
tourism and information technology sectors
in Spain s economy are some examples of
the expertise that his country can offer to
Spain and energy
Spain wants to invest in other parts of
T&T s economy as well, such as telecom and
water resources. The world must also know
what T&T is capable of offering.
"T&T plays an important role in the
Caribbean because of its oil and gas sector.
It is one of the countries that is blessed with
natural resources and I think the challenge
for T&T is to make good use of this."
Repsol started its T&T operations in 1995
and is an integrated global energy company
based in Madrid, Spain. It carries out
upstream and downstream activities through-
out the entire world and has more than 27,000
According to its Web site in 2009: "Repsol
sells 35 per cent of the gas produced in the
T&T liquefaction plant. The company owns
20 per cent of the facility s first Train, 25 per
cent of Trains 2 and 3, and 22.2 per cent of
Train 4. Repsol owns the rights to seven off-
shore blocks, which hold a quarter of the
company s total reserves."
Asked how the changing price of oil has
impacted the company s operations, Aldaz
said the company has adapted to changes in
its external environment. Referring to the
overall price of oil and gas, Aldaz said the
high price of oil and gas is very "painful."
"Our economy depends a lot on the import
of this energy. What we have done is develop
a strong renewable-energy sector, we depend
a lot on hydro-electric energy, so we have to
try to balance the (impact) of oil and gas
Other aspects of T&T's economy
Speaking about his meeting with the three
ministers, Aldaz said the meetings were "very
good," and government s policy for diversifying
the economy was explained in that meeting.
"One of the challenges for economies which
are dependent on natural resources is how
to diversify the economy so they won t have
to depend so heavily on it and they can bal-
ance the changes in prices."
In this regard, he said Spain can comple-
ment what T&T already has when it comes
to tourism, agriculture, services sectors and
many others. Before anything can work, there
is need to deepen the bilateral relations
between the two countries and to encourage
trade delegations to visit the countries.
"By the end of this year, we will have some
exchanges (or visits to each other s country).
Our country is a very dry country but we
have learnt to grow crops under bad condi-
tions. We are one of the main exporters of
vegetables to Europe.
"We have a great interior market within
the European Union which accounts for 50
per cent of our exports and the rest of our
exports are more or less all over the world.
I think T&T needs to increase its trade capac-
ity and Spain can assist in boosting this. We
are importing oil and gas from T&T and I
think you can take advantage of the Spanish
manufacturing (models) or products."
Businesses from Spain are accustomed to
global competition and would not be deterred
by any competition from businesses in the
Latin American and Caribbean region.
"The Latin American region is a very diver-
sified region in terms of geography, natural
resources. In general terms, the Latam region
is very productive and positive in the last 15
Asked whether airlift between the two
countries would be positive for tourism, he
suggested that it would but "it depends on
whether airlines see this and the investments
they would want to make."
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JULY 9 • 2015
hand to T&T
Jesus Manuel Gracia Aldaz, Spain's Secretary of State for Latin America and the Caribbean and
International Development Cooperation.
PHOTOS: SHIRLEY BAHADHUR
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