Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 2nd 2017 Contents MARCH 2 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG17
key to a successful
The trade mission
service is a key fa-
cility that the T&T
Chamber offers to
support private sec-
tor companies that
are interested in exploring business
opportunities in new markets. Past
trade missions conducted by the T&T
Chamber include the fact-finding
mission to the Republic of Cuba in
2015 and the Trade and Investment
mission to Panama in 2016.
In considering participation in a
trade mission, the following ques-
tions may arise:
• Does market exploration nec-
essarily result in market presence?
• What makes for a successful
market penetration strategy?
• How do trade missions, like the
one conducted to Cuba, better po-
sition businesses to take advantage
of new opportunities and overcome
• How can BSOs like the T&T
Chamber better prepare new and
existing firms to engage networks
in their targeted market to advance
their business interests?
One measure of the success of any
Mission is in the ability of a company
to follow up, and eventually pursue
business opportunities on their own.
One such success story has been Car-
ib Glassworks Ltd (GCL) member of
the ANSA McAL Group of Compa-
nies and the leading supplier of glass
products throughout the Caribbean.
The company has found new ways to
explore and expand to new markets
and to seek new opportunities in the
ever-changing global landscape.
We sat down with David Hadeed,
managing director of CGL to get a
company perspective on how Mis-
sions like the one conducted to Cuba
in 2015 could be leveraged to assist
firms to maximise their business
Q: What first attracted
your company to the idea of
doing business in Cuba as
opposed to any other Latin
We are the only glass manufacturer
in the entire Caribbean and we supply
glass bottles throughout Caricom as
well as to the two countries in His-
paniola (Haiti and the Dominican Re-
public), and Puerto Rico. Cuba was
the only regional territory where we
did not have a market presence, and
it is more than double the current
Caricom market that we currently
It was a clear opportunity.
When did you first begin
to pursue trade opportuni-
ties in that market?
We actually went in last quarter
of 2014. At that point, we decided to
make an investment to build our ca-
pacity so we went out to look for new
customers and new markets where
we could sell our bottles.
Did you factor into your
decision, at that time, the
whole issue of purchasing
As a glass bottle manufacturer,
we look less at purchasing power
and look more at consumers' pur-
Some markets tend to favour the
use of plastic, some use glass bottles.
Cuba is very much a glass bottle mar-
ket as they have a lot of rum bottles.
We felt we could fit into that market
and provide them with some of their
glass bottle needs.
What were some of the
major challenges that you
have experienced since you
started doing business in
Unlike other markets, there is no
private sector to speak of in Cuba, so
understanding how to navigate their
unique political landscape is critical.
Luckily, ExportTT has a trade facili-
tation office in Havana and the team
there, led by Jude Carasquero, was
of immeasurable help. The issue of
payment is another challenge.
As a businessman, what
are your specific concerns
with respect to financial /
other state regulations set
by the government specif-
ically relating to: (i) cur-
rency availability and (ii)
When we went in, we agreed on
volumes and terms, and so the next
discussion was centred on payment.
Financial institutions both here and
in Cuba are set up to help facilitate
How did participating in
the T&T Chamber's Trade
mission to Cuba play a role
in your efforts to success-
fully penetrate the Cuban
Apart from what I have said before
about it being a follow up visit for
CGL rather than an exploratory one,
I think going with a group of people
allowed for interaction and under-
standing as to what their challenges
were in trying to get into Cuba, as
well as sharing of what opportunities
they might have seen.
The T&T Chamber delegation was
fairly sizeable, with a cross section of
service providers, manufacturers and
financial service providers.
Understanding where they saw
themselves in Cuba gave me a dif-
ferent perspective on how they saw
the market versus how I saw it. There
is obviously a lot to benefit to that.
Did you find it more use-
ful to explore the market as
part of an official delega-
What was the most ben-
eficial aspect of the trade
mission's value added ser-
vice that the chamber of-
fers (B2B meetings, meeting
Well I don’t know that CGL would
have been where we are without it!
What has happened to
Carib Glassworks' trade
with Cuba since the trade
We made a bottle for one of the
largest rum producers there, agreed
on price, and ran samples for them.
They tested and approved the sam-
ples and we have agreed on a two-
year supply agreement. We have be-
gun commercial discussions about
The market has been slow in de-
veloping and there are significant
opportunities that we continue to
pursue. We have also generated in-
terest from other buyers as a result
of the above-mentioned approvals.
Based on your experience,
what are the most impor-
tant success factors that
contribute to successful
I think we were able to go into the
market, understand who the players
were and why they had such a pres-
ence in the market.
Repeat/regular visits to Cuba in the
initial stage to better understand the
market dynamics and strengthen the
business relationship was critical to
From there it was determining
what CGL's selling proposition was,
and then finding a way to effectively
communicate that to potential cus-
tomers so that they understood that
we were bringing something unique
to the table.
The majority of the glass is coming
from Europe and takes weeks to get
to Cuba. So CGL can offer custom-
ers glass in a shorter space of time
which helps them avoid stock outs,
and lowers the amount of inventory
they would normally hold.
Add that to the fact that Caricom
has a trade agreement with Cuba,
which means they are importing
glass from Trinidad duty free.
As an export "champion,"
what advice would you give
to companies, both large
and small, interested in
pursuing opportunities in
I don't know about being a cham-
pion, but I can say definitely that no
market worth having comes easy. If
you want to be in the market you need
to determine how you can get there
and you need to stay the course.
Based on the approach
taken by many com-
panies small and large
that (like CGL) have
to new markets, we can pin point
some key factors for a successful
• The T&T is committed to assist-
ing new and experienced exporters
of goods and services in exploring
new market opportunities. Based on
feedback from participants of pre-
vious missions the value has been
demonstrated and we will be doing
further work on this aspect of market
• Come June 2017, the T&T Cham-
ber will be pleased to undertake yet
another trade mission---our first for
the year---to our neighbouring Car-
icom territory of Guyana.
Based on a recent survey con-
ducted amongst local firms, there
was high interest in the country as
a trade destination. We encourage
you to join us in exploring business
opportunities in Guyana.
Take the first step towards success-
ful market engagement. For further
information please call the T&T
Chamber at 637 6966 extension 1246.
An exporter's perspective
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