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BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt SEPTEMBER 7 • 2017
trade still limited
In 2016, Venezuelan trade officials
visited T&T seeking to boost trade
between both countries.
While the two energy-based econ-
omies are well known for their gas
relationship, other areas of trade were
The Venezuelans also took the opportunity
to begin talks to import foodstuff and other
goods from T&T that have been in short supply
Like T&T, Venezuela's energy dependent
economy is in a deep recession.
The effects of this recession have led to a
gross domestic product (GDP) decline of 17
per cent in 2016, high inflation and a shortage
of some basic goods.
The Business Guardian sent Christopher
Alcazar, president of the Manufacturers' As-
sociation (TTMA) some questions to see how
far the business relationship has evolved since
Venezuelan officials visited in 2016.
"As far as the TTMA is aware, very few food
companies were actually able to establish trade
into Venezuela from the discussions of 2016
and even fewer continue to trade to this day due
to complications with the process and delays
in receiving payments from Corpovex," he told
the Business Guardian by email on Monday.
The Venezuelan Corporation of Foreign
Trade (Corpovex) is responsible for the im-
porting of all goods managed by the State.
When asked what local companies still trade
with Venezuela, he said he preferred not to
give the names at this time.
Arawak was one of the eight local companies
in 2016 that began exports to Venezuela.
On August 6, Venezuela's Govern-
ment-managed "CLAP"---the Spanish acro-
nym for the local supply and production com-
mittees---posted on its Twitter account that
5,000 tonnes of food and other basic products
from T&T had arrived on Venezuelan ports.
To help solve the shortages of basic products
there, the Government set up neighbourhood
committees around the country which deliv-
er boxes of grocery supplies and other basic
products to people's houses at subsidised rates.
CLAP is in charge of this distribution.
In June 2016, Venezuela's vice minister of
domestic trade, Colonel Renier Urbáez visited
Speaking to local media at the Piarco In-
ternational Airport during his visit, he said
that food supplies would be sent to the eastern
state of Sucre first and, subsequently, to other
regions of the country.
The day before he spoke to the local media,
12 tonnes of rice were sent on a first trip, which
left just after midday, along with 33 tonnes
of chicken, which consists of 16,000 heads
At that time the Ministry of Trade and the
TTMA had expressed confidence that it would
be an opportunity for the local manufacturing
sector, especially during the economic reces-
sion in T&T.
Ramesh Ramdeen, CEO of the TTMA, told
the media then that: "This generating of for-
eign exchange would help manufacturers to
source their raw materials for production."
Alcazar said that the ability of T&T's man-
ufacturers to export to foreign markets, es-
pecially during an economic slowdown, is
Venezuela's population of 32 million can also
provide opportunities for the local manufac-
"Being able to establish sustainable trade
with a country as large as Venezuela has mas-
sive benefits to local manufacturers and our
nation as a whole. Foreign exchange earnings
will grow which can help offset our current
He also explained how increased production
helps the local economy.
"The additional production presents the
opportunity to increase employment locally,
as well as lower your overall cost per unit which
can assist to control inflation on food prod-
ucts produced locally for citizens. This also can
help manufacturers be more cost competitive
to export further into other countries."
He also highlighted what the consequences
would be if there is a slump in local production.
"On the contrary, with the slump of the lo-
cal economy and reduced demand, producing
less in the same factory translates to a higher
cost per unit which eventually leads to either
downsizing the factory and staff to suit de-
mand or increased prices and becoming less
competitive in the export markets."
He reiterated that this is part of T&T's strat-
egy to continue to diversify the economy.
"All of this wraps up into our drive as a
country to move away from our dependence
on oil and gas revenues and supports a key point
which is to strongly support local manufactur-
ers today for our future and children's future."
TTMA president: Tremendous opportunities for local manufacturers exist
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