Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 9th 2015 Contents A17
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Senior officials of the T&T Man-
ufacturers Association (TTMA) led
by president Dr Rolph Balgobin paid
a courtesy visit to Trade and Industry
Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon at her
Nicholas Tower Office on Wednesday.
During the visit, frank discussions
were held about the current state of
the local manufacturing sector and
plans to ramp up the business model
and variety of goods being produced,
as well increasing the manufacturers
Gopee-Scoon called on the manu-
facturers to assume their critical role
in the nation s diversification agenda.
"Given the current economic cli-
mate, the private sector, in particular
the manufacturing sector, is integral
to the Government s diversification
agenda. We need to see the sector
grow more and to do this, it is imper-
ative that innovation is present in the
development of new products." she
"We need to utilise opportunities
in our trade agreements and penetrate
new markets for our local exporters."
Balgobin gave the commitment of
the TTMA to support the diversifica-
tion thrust stating: "The sector is pre-
pared to work together to ensure the
best economic interests of Trinidad
He also spoke of the need to work
more closely with the ministry s state
agencies---exporTT and TTBS---to
ensure smooth access into untapped
markets of interest. Accompanying Dr.
Balgobin were directors Ashmeer
Mohamed and Christopher Alcazar
and CEO of TTMA, Ramesh Ramdeen.
TTMA pledges support
Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon speaks with Dr Rolph Balgobin, president of
the TTMA, after their meeting on Wednesday.
Although diplomatic relations
have been re-established between
the United States and Cuba, T&T
companies already have a head
start on doing business, says Adri-
an Theodore, CEO of ExporTT.
"We have a history with Cuba
that a lot of countries do not have,
including the Americans. Even
some of the options available to
companies through the T&T Trade
Facilitation Office are not open to
the majority of countries in the
world, so this is not something we
should be afraid of. We are also
happy for the Cuban people as
there are positives to come out of
this," Theodore told the T&T
Theodore made the comment
following a lecture by Cuban
Ambassador to T&T Guillermo
Vazquez Moreno on the US block-
ade against Cuba at the Institute
for International Relations, Uni-
versity of the West Indies (UWI),
St Augustine. He said ExporTT,
the main agency for non oil exports
in T&T, is responsible for the Trade
Facilitation Office in Cuba and they
have been strengthening that office
by hiring more staff and targeting
more trade promotions there.
He said there will be a trade
show in Havana in the first week
of November and T&T companies
will be there.
"A lot of this stuff is very new
but I think that local companies
are really on board. One of the
problems we had with Cuba is the
communication and the back and
forth. There was a lot of lag in
terms of the feedback. What we
are aiming to do is to get rid of
that lag as much as possible. We
follow up on behalf of the local
companies to assist getting nego-
tiations done at a faster rate," he
Theodore said ExporTT will
continue to work with and help
people break into the Cuban mar-
"A lot of people are scared
because of lack of knowledge of
how the Cuban market operates,
as it is different from a market
economy," he said.
Dr Jacqueline Laguardia Mar-
tinez, said given Caricom s long
history with Cuba, its companies
and businesses should have an
even greater presence than now.
"The main thing now is to
enhance more economic co-oper-
ation between Cuba and Caricom.
The US wants to establish a strong
economic presence in Cuba but
there is not enough economic
presence from the Caribbean
countries there and we must try
to change this," she said.
ExporTT CEO: T&T businesses
have head start in Cuba
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