Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 3rd 2015 Contents BG4 NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt SEPTEMBER 3 • 2015
The leaders of the two major political
parties, contending to lead T&T for the
next five years following Monday s general
election, have both made well-received pre-
sentations to local manufacturers at meet-
ings held at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate
School of Business.
The T&T Manufacturers Association
(TTMA) convened a meeting of its members
with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bisses-
sar on Friday and with political leader of
the People s National Movement, Keith
Rowley on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar, who spoke last Friday
at the TTMA s Future of Man-
ufacturing session, told the man-
ufacturers that she wants to
double the sector s contribution
to the economy.
The Prime Minister reached the TTMA dis-
cussion over an hour later than the originally
scheduled time of 2.00pm.
"We see manufacturing as a very vital part
of the T&T economy. Our intention is to double
exports of locally manufactured goods and
double the contribution to GDP by 2020," she
"We have been able to keep a strong dollar.
Our macro-economic fundamentals are very
strong. We have six months import cover, our
GDP is also strong. While the macro-economy
is great the micro factors are also important to
me and we manage to maintain social safety
nets," she said.
She also said that T&T has experienced high
foreign direct investment (FDI) over the last five
years with US$1.5 billion inflows annually since
She pointed manufacturers to the People s
Partnership s 2015 manifesto and the section
on manufacturing and the economy.
According to the PP s manifesto, they intend
to double export of locally manufactured prod-
ucts by 2020, increase employment by 50 per
cent by 2020 and increase contribution to GDP
to 20 per cent, which is twice what it is now.
The manifesto says that to achieve these
objectives, the Government will properly cap-
italise the EXIM Bank and provide sub-market
rates to exporters in order to boost support.
The Government will also create a line of
credit in US dollars at the EXIM Bank for man-
ufacturers, thereby reducing the strain of com-
peting for US dollars with importers who make
little contribution to foreign exchange earnings.
Dr Keith Rowley, who spoke on Tuesday at
the TTMA s Future of Manufacturing session,
acknowledged the importance of manufacturing
to the economy.
"Manufacturing plays a very, very important
part in our national economy. If other areas of
the economy are not doing well, then manu-
facturing plays an even more important part,"
He said exporters need foreign exchange to
do their business and criticised the present gov-
ernment for allowing intermittent shortages to
happen, promising that if elected as Prime Min-
ister he would work with manufacturers for
Speaking on the problem of productivity, he
said, many hours are lost because workers and
business owners are stuck in traffic and repeated
that this Government is considering a rapid rail
system that would take a lot of vehicles off the
road during peak traffic hours.
He also said that it is important for exporters
to find foreign markets in other to survive and
According to the PNM s manifesto once elect-
ed the party will encourage and facilitate linkages
between local manufacturers and exporters
within the diaspora in Canada, the USA and
the UK as a catalyst to entry and penetration
in these markets.
A PNM Government would also do the fol-
lowing, according to the manifesto:
• Work with exporters to get into the huge
Latin American market.
• Upgrade all industrial parks.
• Create synergies between T&T s energy
sector, manufacturing, services and creative sec-
tors to promote diversification.
The manifesto also speaks about reviving and
rebuilding the CSME process which the PNM
believes has been stalled.
The manifesto said a PNM Government will
pursue bilateral agreements with Guyana, Suri-
name and Belize among other Caricom coun-
What manufacturers think
Managing director of Sacha Cosmetics, Kama
Maharaj, believes the local manufacturing sector
has tremendous potential and with the right
help from the Government, local manufacturers
can continue to compete in the Caribbean and
Latin American markets.
"The Government has a role to play. This
present Government has helped the sector a
lot but more can be done. The US$40 a barrel
of oil should be a blessing in disguise so that
we can use this to push for economic diver-
sification. I believe that we have the capacity
to double manufacturing s contribution to gross
domestic product (GDP) in the future," he told
the Business Guardian on Tuesday by phone.
Maharaj was present at the discussion on
the future of manufacturing hosted by the Man-
ufacturers Association (TTMA) last Friday at
the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business
in Mt Hope.
He said one of the biggest boosts that the
Government can give manufacturers is by helping
them to pay the registration fees to enter foreign
markets, especially the Latin American market,
which he advised all local manufacturers and
businesses to enter.
"Registration in Latin America is costly. The
Chinese products are not there in a big way. At
present, the T&T Government helps us with
50 per cent of the registration. This is not enough
and we would like to see the Government pay
the full cost of registration. For each of my
products registration could cost US$30,000."
He said the Government should be more than
willing to help local manufacturers break into
new markets as they have a lot of potential.
"I now dominate the Cuban market, even
the Cuban Government ministries are using
my products. Massy recently entered the
Colombian market and look at how well they
are doing there. The Latin American markets
are closed and their industries are weak. If we
enter those markets in no time at all we will
Maharaj noted the work the current admin-
istration has done in signing the different trade
agreements with Latin American countries, but
he said the Government needs to take the next
step by helping local manufacturers settle in
"If the Government helps me to enter and
settle in new markets, I can do more than just
set up a new store in Arima, I can open one
Importance of manufacturing
Richard Lewis, chairman of the Council for
Competitiveness and Innovation (CCI), told the
Business Guardian on Tuesday at the TTMA s
Future of Manufacturing session that all the
political parties have an idea of the importance
of the manufacturing sector.
"The political parties all have the same idea,
which is good. Whoever wins the election will
have to go back to the table and make sure it
gets done. History has shown that the political
directorate has always seen the importance of
the manufacturing industry. In T&T, 90 per
cent of our revenue comes from the all-impor-
tant oil and gas sector so it is natural to focus
on that so that we cannot lose that revenue.
But now T&T realises that we have to rely on
other sectors like manufacturing. We need to
make sure that the sector stabilises and goes
up otherwise we do not want a second sector
reducing in size."
Although Lewis was not at the TTMA session
last Friday when the Prime Minister spoke, he
said Rowley seemed to understand the issues
of the manufacturing sector.
"He has treated with the issues of manufac-
turers in a serious way. Obviously they know
the problems that exist. He spoke about foreign
exchange and the labour issue, so the funda-
mentals of manufacturing are there and they
have in mind what is to be done.
"Like everything else, everything depends on
what happens in the first 90 to 100 days. Also,
what happens to the state boards as that is a
vital part of the economy and as is how they
are run and the kind of money that they spend."
He said all manufacturers are now retooling
for all potential situations.
"The market in T&T will shrink if there is
reduced economic spend by the Government.
So, the manufacturers need to go back out there
and start selling again and maybe we will be
lucky when the rest of the Caribbean can have
a turn around with the low oil prices.
"Dr Rowley alluded to that. Their market is
more viable as the price of oil and gas for them
to run their economy is lower. But I am very
optimistic about the future of manufacturing.
I think all the parties vying for the Government
understand that good governance will make a
big difference and the manufacturing sector
could participate," he said.
Political parties discuss
future of manufacturing
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, right, with Miguel Bermudez, left; Anthony Aboud,
InvesTT chairman, and Dr Rolph Balgobin, president, TTMA.
Dr Keith Rowley,
Leader of the
with Dr Rolph
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