Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 8th 2017 Contents JUNE 8 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG5
output by 2020
ExporTT's plan is to
double the value of
T&T's 2015's exports
in the non-energy
sector by 2020 said
"The data from the Central Sta-
tistical Office (CSO) show that T&T
exported US$700 million worth of
goods and services in 2015. We are
trying to reach US$1.4 billion in
non-energy exports by 2020. Gen-
erally, from 2009 to 2015, there was
an increase in non-energy exports,"
Mohamed---who is a director of
KC Confectionery and has extensive
experience in the export markets---
assumed the position at exporTT in
November 2016. Also on the board
of directors are: Christopher Alca-
zar, Renuka Sagramsingh-Sooklal,
Dr Cyril Collier, Dr Mikaeel Mo-
hammed, and Marc Jardine.
Mohamed said exporTT's objec-
tive is "to promote the export of
T&T's manufactured goods as well
as services in the non-energy sector
He spoke to the Business Guardian
last Thursday at exporTT's head of-
fice, Charlotte Street, Port-of-Spain.
Mohammed said that exporTT also
provides export training to compa-
nies and, over the last year, 200 local
companies have benefitted.
They also offer an International
Trade Specialist Certification as, he
added, there is a shortage of skilled
export managers in the country.
"In partnership with the eBSI Ex-
port Academy of Ireland, we have
trained 63 individuals to be inter-
national trade specialists.
"In working with some of the ex-
porters we noted there are not many
trained export managers and our ed-
ucation system is also not geared to
put out people with the experience.
Right now, in T&T, if a company
wants an export manager, it is one
of the most difficult skills to find."
Mohamed said there are approxi-
mately 400 companies in T&T that
currently export goods and services
to other countries.
"We also want to widen the range
of exporters. We need to increase the
range of companies that export.
While we are increasing the export
base, we also want to put more em-
phasis on products that we consider
best in class."
He used cocoa and peppers as
examples of products where value
chains are being developed; chains
that would lead to exports in the
"Everyone knows about Angostura
Bitters, but Trinitario cocoa, while
it is well known and T&T produc-
es the best, I do not think that we
maximise this product. We are not
only looking at the export of cocoa
but also at chocolate exports from
the Trinitario cocoa.
"T&T Fine Cocoa Company is a
client of exporTT and they just got
an order in which they will be ship-
ping their chocolate to Harrods to be
their in-store brand. The Dominican
Republic has also shown interest in
He also spoke about chocolate pro-
duced in the Biche and Brasso Seco
"So rather than just producing
and selling the bean, they are pro-
ducing chocolates. This is pride for
these communities. Our goal is to
help them export these chocolates.
I have gone abroad and participated
in food and beverage trade exhibi-
tions. People are interested in T&T's
Mohamed also said he wants to
increase the competitiveness of
manufacturers from T&T.
"We are working closely with the
Manufacturers' Association (TTMA),
the T&T Chamber of Industry and
Commerce as well as many other
business groups across the country.
We recently started working with the
Association of Rural Communities
Using the examples of Biche and
Brasso Seco and their chocolate
products, Mohamed said exporting
is not only for large companies but
also SME's as well.
"Last year, we concluded the Fit
4 Europe project where we interact-
ed with 26 beneficiary companies.
This project was designed to offer
capacity building, sensitisation to
market requirements and market
penetration missions into selected
"Participant's represented a mix
of both large and small manufactur-
ing and services enterprises from a
variety of sectors such as food and
beverages, construction materials,
personal care products, fashion and
"While not all participants got or-
ders many were able to form part-
nerships which can be leveraged to
He also said that exporTT is not
only interested in supporting man-
ufactured goods, but also wants to
see local companies export services.
"In this project there were 12 ser-
vice companies, two of which pro-
vided animation services. They both
secured new customers and were able
to build partnerships with companies
in the EU market."
Mohamed also pointed to Cuba
as one of the important markets
towards which local exporters are
He said exporTT has been taking
local companies to Cuba's Havana
International Trade Fair for the past
"Last year we took the largest
delegation of approximately 95
individuals from diverse sectors of
the economy including exporters,
professional visitors, government
officials, importers and energy sector
"The delegation was headed by
T&T's Minister of Trade and In-
dustry. We were very successful.
We have approximately six to eight
companies doing business in Cuba
and Cuba represents about US$106
billion in business in 2016. We also
have three new companies that are
on the verge of exporting to Cuba."
In terms of new developments with
Cuba, Mohamed also said Caribbean
Airlines should start flights to Cuba
When the Minister of Trade was
there last year, she visited Cuba's
bio-tech companies. Rituals is also
looking at importing coffee from
Cuba to sell in their restaurants, he
said. The trade facilitation office in
Cuba plays a major role in our busi-
ness with the Cuba market.
"For the Trade and Investment
Convention (TIC) later this year, a
large Cuban delegation will be com-
ing and all of this will help drive the
relationship between the two coun-
Mohamed said exporTT is play-
ing its part in helping the economy
diversify and the business commu-
nity in T&T understands that the
economic downturn requires new
ways of doing things.
"Most manufacturers are quite
anxious to export. When you see
communities like Brasso Seco want-
ing to get into exports, then we are
seeing a shift in the economic culture
of the country."
Referring to the shortage of foreign
exchange in the country, he said this
showcases the importance of finding
new ways to generate foreign cur-
"Manufacturers need to be able to
earn some foreign exchange other-
wise your success will not be guar-
"We are also looking at import
substitution as some of these com-
panies that import products can uti-
lise a little more local content. If you
look at the top 120 manufacturers in
the country we are all exporting to
Based on their data, Mohamed said
there have been seven local compa-
nies that have begun exporting to
international markets in 2017. He
used this as an example not only
of exporTT's hard work but also of
the changing culture in the business
"This would be mainly in the food
and beverage sector and a few in the
ICT sector. We have a research and
development grant facility where we
help companies develop new prod-
ucts all the way to new prototypes.
For the year we have assisted three
companies in this area."
He concluded by saying that diver-
sification will not happen overnight.
"Remember the problem the coun-
try faces is that the substantial drop
from the energy sector is huge. Even
if we do double non-energy exports
by 2020, it is still not sufficient. We
are doing what we can and we have
to continue to exceed."
ExporTT CEO Dietrich Guichard, left, with chairman Ashmeer Mohamed.
PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON
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