Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 31st 2016 Contents BG8 TRADE
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt MARCH 31 • 2016
Excuses are unacceptable. That s the position
Paula Gopee-Scoon, Trade and Industry Min-
ister, takes when it comes to ExporTT s role
in facilitating exports. She said there should
be no excuse for a shipment of goods from
T&T reaching its destination and the export
certification documents are not there.
In mid February, at a news conference to talk about the
state of the manufacturing sector, president of T&T Manu-
facturers Association, Rolph Balgobin, had said the export
environment had become hostile. And that there have been
instances where goods from T&T arrived at their destinations
without export certification. He had warned that this could
impact on T&T s reputation as it gave the impression that the
country does not know how to conduct business.
While exporters in T&T have penetrated the Caricom markets,
interest in Cuba peaked last week even further when US pres-
ident Barack Obama visited there. The size of that market is
about 11 million and exporters such as Sacha Cosmetics and
Carib Brewery are already present.
In an interview at the ministry s Nicholas Tower, Port-of-
Spain headquarters, Gopee-Scoon said she was aware of the
complaint that goods were reaching their destinations but
there was no documentation.
"From an operational perspective we are dealing with that.
ExporTT, we expect more from them. ExporTT will not be
a hindrance in the ability to export within a reasonable time
frame," said Gopee-Scoon.
"On a daily basis we are looking at the systems in place,
with ExporTT to make sure that they are acting as effectively
and efficiently as can be, and as is necessary."
If more exporters are to penetrate the Cuban market, she
said, this means it is time for a reduction in the amount of
days it takes to do business.
"We want to reduce the time it takes to do business. We
are looking at the time it takes to facilitate imports, to clear
exports, a reduction in days for document preparation and
Customs clearance. For exports from six days to four days-
not good enough. In the case of imports the reduction in the
days for document preparation and customs clearance which
is nine days and six days-not good enough."
Although critical of ExporTT, Gopee-Scoon said: "ExporTT
cannot achieve capacity on its own and needs the support of
the Ministry, the policy and the strategy would have to come
from the Government."
Cohesiveness is not present across the government bodies
she said, and "that s why we are working with all government
departments so there can be a harmonious approach to trading.
I see it (cohesiveness among government bodies) being a
reality," she said.
On March 4, Business Guardian via email sent questions
for comment to ExporTT, but received only a statement which
said: "ExporTT is the national organisation geared to assist
local businesses to become more export competitive, with a
particular focus on the non-energy sector."
"We are currently in the process of reviewing our strategic
agenda and increasing our operational thrust in light of the
new economic outlook for our country and in this regard, we
continue to actively partner for growth with our parent Ministry,
state agencies, trade-related institutions such as the TTMA
and the private sector, our primary clientele. We have no doubt
that as we progress in our collaborative endeavours, more
opportunities will evolve for all involved."
One exporter, who is a food manufacturer, who did not
want to be named, said before the container goes to the port,
the documents which have to be prepared are:
• Generate shipping documents (Caricom invoice, C82 and
certificate of origin & permits if required);
• Shipping documents are uploaded into Customs Asycuda
• Caricom documentation is uploaded into TT BizLink
online in order to generate certificate (original is collected from
ExporTT offices on Charlotte Street)
• Container received from shipping line, bill of lading is
generated and sent to shipping line to upload into Government
port system to be able to receive the container on vessel;
• Container is loaded
• Stamped copies of C82, Caricom is collected from gov-
ernment customs department in Nicholas Tower
• Government stamped copies of C82, BL, Caricom, assess-
ment fee and weigh bridge is presented to port by company
customs representative on day container is being sent to the
portThe ministry, she said, was developing the National Export
Strategy and the National Services Policy and is looking closely
at the National Special Economic Zones Policy which will be
taken to Cabinet.
Other opportunities in the Caribbean are being looked at:
"We are looking at the circumstances of the region as well,
we are looking at markets outside of the region. It requires
a lot of work and study, no point putting out something that
is willy nilly. It has to be constructive and has to work, hence
the reason for the intense deliberations, Gopee-Scoon said.
Specifically, it is time for T&T to deepen its footprint in
countries such as: Latin America, Africa, US, UK and Europe
and she said that "the ministry and ExporTT would be aggres-
sive in their approach, hoping to achieve exponential increases
in non-energy exports."
"We are looking at all of the possibilities including the new
markets that are developing as a result of changed circumstances
in Cuba. We are also looking at Venezuela as well. We are
looking at market access and market penetration. Wider than
that, one has to look at the products that are being produced
that they are in fact marketable products."
In early October 2014, in an interview with Business Guardian,
Dr Carmen Booker, assistant regional director, Food and Drug
Administration, Latin America office on her visit to T&T had
given manufacturers the thumbs up for having the safety stan-
dards in place in their manufacturing plant.
Recognising that exporters do have impediments to exporting,
she said the ministry is constantly communicating with the
Gopee-Scoon said: "We have a close relationship with the
TTMA. We ve had interactions at the ministry, stakeholder
consultations, and we will continue those as well. The needs
of the country and the manufacturers needs must be fulfilled.
The relations between the ministry and manufacturers need
to be improved if there is to be increased exports."
Single Electronic Window
Giving an update on the SEW initiative which was approved
in 2009, she said: "We are now hosting 45 transactional e-
services administered to 24 government departments, nine
Ministries including the e-certificate of origin, the e-
export/import permits and licenses, e-fiscal incentives, e-
import duty concessions.
"Going forward government is working with the Inter-
American Development Bank to improve trade performance
and facilitation and strengthen that whole business environ-
According to the Ministry s Web site, "The objective of the
SEW Project is to improve the competitiveness of T&T by
improving the trade and business facilitation processes and
providing an enabling environment for stakeholders involved
in the trade and business clearance processes to perform import
and export transactions electronically."
She projects that transactions on the SEW platform are
expected to increase.
"We have entered into another loan, we have agreed to enter
into another loan to advance and strengthen the Single Electronic
Window. The size of that loan is US$25 million. Over the next
five years you can expect another 45 or so transactions to be
"We haven t taken the loan yet but Cabinet has agreed to
it. I believe we would sign on to the loan in April. We are fol-
lowing the specifications of IDB, and making sure that we
follow the timelines as well to make sure that this project is
rolled out as quickly as possible because we have to meet our
competitiveness target and make sure that our imports and
exports operate at an exceptional international standard."
Small businesses have a role to play in increasing exports
and, therefore, Gopee-Scoon said her ministry is working with
the Ministry of Labour, the Tobago House of Assembly because:
"it takes a holistic approach to putting young entrepreneurs
in a better position so entrepreneurship can become a reality
because we understand the contribution of this to GDP and
One of the most popular complaints coming from small
business owners is capital. On this issue, she said the Gov-
ernment is working with the local banks to improve support
for small businesses and this is being done through a World
"We are seeking to have banks improve their outlook in
terms of the suitability of extending credit to new small busi-
nesses and to existing small businesses. I think there is consumer
buy-in from the commercial banking sector. I can see a change
in the way the commercial banking system looks at the small
businesses which have good opportunities for growth. I expect
to see an increased matching of credit to ideas that are now
sees big hike in
It is time for T&T to deepen its
footprint in countries such as:
Latin America, Africa, US, UK and Europe.
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