Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 8th 2013 Contents Local companies have what it
takes to export beyond Caricom,
but need the technical help in
making this possible, said Tricia
Ramoutar-Soo Hon, manager,
"Local exporters can compete out of Cari-
com. Not just because you are small, it does
not mean you not able to enter larger markets
out of Caricom. It depends on your products
and the quality behind it and whether you
can produce to meet those needs," she said.
She described the Caricom market as a
"natural market" for local exporters.
"It is psychological that Caricom is a natural
next step for us, outside our doorstep, in that
it is our culture and language and we under-
stand that market. It is not that it is a barrier
to getting out of this market, it is that our
manufacturers are starting to understand those
markets. We are accustomed and comfortable
Ramoutar-Soo Hon told the Business
Guardian this on Monday following a seminar
on trade and export financing at the Courtyard
Marriott Port-of-Spain Hotel, Invader s Bay.
She said exporTT s mandate is to encourage
export growth and diversification in the goods
and services sector, develop new exporters
across the various sectors, increase compet-
itiveness expand exports into new markets.
2012 exporters' survey
ExporTT did a survey among exporters in
October 2012, which found that many of them
still find Caricom to be their "important mar-
After Caricom, the United States, Canada
and Europe are important markets for
exporters, she added.
The survey found the most worrying barriers
for exporters are lack of market research, cost
of market entry, labour shortages and T&T
She said even geographically close markets
may sometimes be distant and unfamiliar to
local exporters because they are culturally dif-
"So Venezuela might be nearest to us, but
because the culture is different and the lan-
guage is different, these are not the typical
markets where a company would know what
to expect. So a lot of research needs to be
done to get into these markets."
She said exporTT has completed market
entry surveys in 2013 for Costa Rica and Cana-
da and is in the middle of the surveys for
Colombia, Guyana and Suriname.
"We are in these countries gathering specific
research to determine what are the products
from T&T these markets are appropriate for
and what the requirements when they enter.
When we look at large markets like Colombia,
we have to advise exporters what is the appro-
priate Colombian city to enter. T&T, as a Cari-
com exporter, is not accustomed to that."
She said the role of exporTT is to assist and
get exporters ready for the international mar-
"The exporters told us one of the things
they need is market intelligence to be able to
get into those markets. Our role is to give them
the information in terms of what they can
bring to the market and to understand the
market, so they can make the transition from
Caricom to there."
Later on this year exporTT will return to
the industrial sector to do follow up surveys,
Preparing smaller exporters
She said the food and beverage and pro-
ducers of industrial goods have the potential
to reach international markets.
"Right now, we are in the process of iden-
tifying within the broader sectors what those
products that should be exported should be.
Food and beverage could be our biggest non-
energy export, to both Caricom and outside.
Of course, there are niche markets that we
need to identify as we do our research."
Exporters have also requested different types
of ways in which exporTT can assist.
"They want research from us and being able
to meet those barriers for trade, which would
mean getting their products registered to meet
international standards. It also means local
state agencies rising to international standards
in terms of customs and trade financing," she
Ramoutar-Soo Hon said there are food and
beverage companies looking to get into markets
as far as West Africa.
ExporTT is also supporting companies that
have not yet started to export, but have the
capacity to so do within the next decade.
"Our role is not only to address the current
exporters, but also potential exporters and to
ensure those coming up right now get the
fundamentals right. An example of this is the
cottage and beverage industry. We have a very
vibrant cottage food and beverage sector, like
condiments, pepper sauces and breads, and
many of them export on very small levels. So
what our cluster programme does is train them
in international marketing, labelling and pack-
aging and other fundamentals."
She said all exporters are not at the same
level of development and exporTT has created
four different levels of export readiness for
companies based on annual export sales, export
frequency the percentage of extra regional
Trade Minister Vasant Bharath, who also spoke
at the seminar, said T&T is beginning to see the
returns on its aggressive marketing push into
He said areas have been identified to set up
more industrial parks.
"We are looking at accessing Chinese funding
for e-TecK for the park, which will give us $700
million over next two years. These industrial
parks will be geographically spread across the
country and they will be for certain types of
businesses. Some will be specific for software
companies; others will be specific for warehousing
and so on," he said.
Without giving details, he said the Government
will be building a new port and has already
enlisted the assistance of the Chinese.
"One of the major projects the Government
has committed to undertake is looking at a new
port as the Port of Port-of-Spain is congested.
It has outlived its purpose because of where it
is situated. If we are to attract new vessels coming
through the Panama Canal and also the new
Canal in Nicaragua, we need to have the facilities
to accommodate those large vessels. We already
have a team of Chinese engineers who already
have started a feasibility study," Bharath said.
He spoke of new investors coming to T&T.
"We have been to India, Brazil, Canada, and
all of those are going to start bearing fruit soon.
We are beginning to see significant investments
see fruition as far as India, emanating out of
Canada recently," he said.
Bharath said the Government is working on
refocusing Eximbank from being import oriented
to export oriented.
"Right now the business it does is about 70
per cent import and 30 per cent export. I want
to change that so that we can offer incentives
that would encourage people to do exports into
foreign markets," Bharath said.
BG8 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt AUGUST 2013 • WEEK TWO
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