Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 11th 2013 Contents T&T and the rest of Cari-
com must become glob-
ally competitive or perish.
This is the advice Gerry
Brooks, chief operating
officer, ANSA McAL
Group, gave if T&T is to
survive in a competitive
world where everything is uncertain.
"What is clear is that Caricom must be re-
engineered completely. While there has been
some success in Caricom at the functional co-
operation level, the current construct of Cari-
com is too slow in terms of policy formulation
decision-making and execution. It is not a
condemnation of Caricom, but a constructive
call for us to rethink, refashion and reengineer
the Caricom model," Brooks said.
Brooks was speaking on Monday at a seminar
on Competitiveness and Sustainable Devel-
opment, hosted by the T&T American Chamber
of Commerce (AmCham T&T) at the Hilton
Hotel and Conference Centre, St Ann s.
From July 3-5, T&T hosted the 34th regular
meeting of the conference of heads of gov-
ernment of the Caricom where Caribbean lead-
ers also celebrated Caricom s 40th anniver-
"Remittance income, tourism and financial
services do not provide adequate horsepower
to sustain vulnerable, small states historically
reliant on aid, grant money and concessionary
agricultural terms," Brooks said.
"For us in T&T, reduced per capita income
of our primary export markets means that we
must look further afield and shop the hemi-
sphere and the world."
T&T falling behind
Brooks said T&T is trailing other emerging
economies in important areas.
"Some key indicators include key productivity
data points, like absenteeism levels, these are
at six per cent nationally. Then there are the
number of holidays locally and we have 16.
We average more than most countries with
the United States at ten and Canada at eight.
As we seek to gain shelf space and market
share in major markets, advantages of our lower
energy costs have to be balanced against shorter
production runs, higher financing costs and
escalating labour costs."
Brooks said T&T is attracting less foreign
investment than other emerging economies in
"If one looks at foreign direct investment
(FDI) in 2012, we attracted US$1.2 billion. Com-
paratively, Chile and Colombia grew 5.5 per
cent and four per cent, respectively. Chile
attracted US$28.1 billion in FDI coming from
Japan, Sweden, Australia, Spain, Peru and Aus-
tralia. Colombia grew at four cent in 2012. FDI
Brooks continued, "A closer look at peer
countries such as Botswana, Chile, Colombia
and Qatar---whose economies are also ener-
gy-based and whose economies slipped to
negative growth in 2009---show recovery, but
T&T s economy has not.
"T&T has not been able to return to return
to levels of growth that it experienced prior to
the global meltdown. In fact, mean growth
over the period is negative 1.3 per cent. The
question is: why and what must we do dif-
ferently to stimulate growth in the face of con-
tinuing budget deficits?"
Caribbean economic crisis
Brooks said with the exception of Guyana
and Suriname, Caribbean economies are afflict-
ed by low growth and high debt.
"Growth in Jamaica is 0.1 per cent in 2012
with debt to GDP of 146.6 per cent. In 2012,
Barbados exhibited growth of 0.6 per cent
with debt increasing from 83 per cent to 88
"Grenada s debt level is 140 per cent with
unemployment at 30 per cent and over."
Brooks said there are at least five countries
using the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
facilities: Grenada, St Kitts, Barbados, Antigua
He said Caribbean currencies slipping against
the US dollar is "worrying."
"Currency slippage has again occurred in
Jamaica by six per cent. Currency slippage has
also occurred in Guyana from Guyanese 200
to Guyanese 206 against the US," Brooks said.
"The delicate political situation and the
recent slippage of international gold prices to
US$1,230 range must be managed in Guyana
to ensure continued growth."
Central Bank Governor Jwala Rambarran
said although there is reason to be optimistic
about the economy, there seems to be pes-
simism across the country.
"But this is not the message we seem to
be absorbing as a nation. We seem to have
a penchant for self-inflicted wounds, looking
at our country from the glass is half-empty
perspective. I appeal to all of us to look at our
economy from a glass half-full point of view.
This is actually not difficult to do. Growth is
consolidating, unemployment is low, public
debt is very manageable and our citizens enjoy
a high standard of living," he said.
Rambarran said the international economy
is going through "unusual times."
He painted a grim landscape.
"During the last few weeks, sentiment has
changed dramatically in global financial mar-
kets, again with unintended consequences.
Markets overreacted to an earlier-tha-expected
start to the reduction of monetary stimulus
in the US, even though the Federal Reserves
clearly stated that should this commence, it
would be done very slowly and would be
Rambarran said the "intensity" of the market
reaction contributed to a reversal of capital
flows in many emerging economies, sending
their economies tumbling and stock markets
He spoke about the possibility of the inter-
national economy sliding back into another
recession, adding that every time a problem
is solved in one part of the world, it "mutates"
and rears its head in another form, perpet-
uating the economic crisis.
"Such volatility may well signal the start
of a new mutation of the ongoing financial
crisis. It may well be a forerunner to the new
risks that could materialise when unconven-
tional US monetary policy begins to unwind
Rambarran spoke about unresolved issues
that could have serious global consequences.
"Many of the old tail risks, like low prob-
ability and high impact events in the global
economy, such as a breakup of the Eurozone,
the US going over the fiscal cliff, a hard landing
in China, still remain unresolved," Rambarran
BG4 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JULY 2013 • WEEK TWO
ANSA McAL's Gerry Brooks:
needs to be
Central Bank Governor
Jwala Rambarran, left,
has the attentive ear of
Gerry Brooks, chief
operating officer, ANSA
McAL Group, at
meeting at the Hilton
Trinidad, St Ann's, on
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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