Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 10th 2014 Contents BG10 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JULY 2014 • WEEK TWO
The Venezuelan delegation negotiated US$16 million in business
deals at the Trade and Investment Convention (TIC) last week.
On the opening day of the TIC, Venezuelan Trade Minister
Dante Rivas said it gives both countries the chance to strengthen
and diversify their economies.
"We are participating with more than 400 products which
are not oil related and there are over 60 companies from Venezuela.
We want to prove that we have the intention to strengthen our
relationship in the political, social and economic spheres with
our neighbours. Even though we are so close geographically, in
many ways, we are far away. We want to strengthen our trade
relations with T&T," he told the Business Guardian on TIC's
opening day July 2.
The Venezuelan delegation eventually won the award for the
best pavilion at this year's TIC.
On showcase were products made in Venezuela, from laptops,
tablets and TVs to clothes to construction materials to home
Some of the bigger Venezuela companies that took part included
computer manufacturer Siragon and Freeways, which manu-
factures truck trailers.
According to Venezuelan state news agency AVN, the sectors
that generated the most interest among T&T investors at TIC
last week were the construction sector with $7.2 million. Then
containers and packaging, with about $3.2 million traded. Then
electronics, with $2.86 million and health, with $1.62 million.
Rivas spoke to the Business Guardian on July 2 on the opening
of the TIC at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya.
Rivas said the products showcased at TIC are all "proudly
made in Venezuela" which shows that Venezuela has more than
oil and gas.
"There are construction products, food, information technology,
computers, furniture. We do not only have the most beautiful
women in the world and oil and gas, but we have high quality
products, too. We have companies that not only supply the
domestic demand, but also have the capacity to produce high
quality goods for the export markets," Rivas said.
He said TIC gives T&T and Venezuela the opportunity to
move away from their dependence on oil and gas.
"Around the world, T&T and Venezuela are recognised as oil
exporting countries, and with participation in this very important
Trade show in the Caribbean, we are trying to show that Venezuela
is not only an oil-producing country, there are so many other
products that Venezuela produces that have nothing to do with
oil," he said.
According to the Web site of the Organisation of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC), Venezuela's oil revenues account
for about 95 per cent of export earnings. The oil and gas sector
is around 25 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). Apart
from petroleum, the country's natural resources include natural
gas, iron ore, gold, bauxite, diamonds and other minerals.
Two years ago, in a bid to diversify its economy, Venezuela
set up a Ministry of Industry that focuses on non-oil manu-
facturing and assembling of industrial products, manufacturing
everything from cars, buses and computers with the Chinese,
to tractors and trucks with the Russians, to laptop computers
and construction materials with European countries like Portugal
and food processing with Brazil and Argentina.
According to the Economic Commission for Latin America
and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Report in December 2013, Venezuela
led the region in poverty reduction in 2012 where it fell from
29.5 per cent to 23.9 per cent.
Mark Weisbrot, director of the Washington-based economic
think tank CEPR, calls this drop in poverty in Venezuela "the
biggest in Latin America and the Caribbean if not the world"
and praised Venezuela for its economic growth and poverty
Rivas said Venezuela Export, the travelling trade show at TIC,
was in El Salvador the week before Trinidad, and in the past
has been to other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean,
including Jamaica, El Salvador, Ecuador and Uruguay.
In El Salvador they were able to sign US$3 million in con-
"We are going around the world. Not only to show that we
produce products other than oil, but that we are diversifying
our economy and, at the same time, building economic part-
nerships with regional countries. We can also have T&T products
in Venezuela, too, so it is a two way process," he said.
He said the relationship must go deeper than just trade.
"We are not only trying to show ourselves as a partner looking
for exports and markets, we also want to present ourselves as
a partners to aid the development of the region," Rivas said.
He pointed out Venezuela is a member of some of the world's
biggest trade blocs, which include the Southern Common Market
of South America (Mercusor) which includes Brazil, Argentina
If the GDP of all these countries are combined, it is the fifth
biggest GDP in the world and Brazil, by itself, is already the
world's sixth largest economy.
...construction sector generates $7.2m in business at TIC
Siragon, Venezuela's technol-
ogy company which man-
ufactures personal comput-
ers (PCs), tablets and TVs,
wants to use T&T as a step-
ping stone to break into the
Caribbean, said Melissa Rios, sales manager
"We have a presence in Argentina and in
Miami in the United States. We do not have
a presence in the English-speaking Caribbean,
but we want to begin selling our products here
in T&T and launch our products in other
islands in the region. We think that this is a
good market," she told the Business Guardian
on the second day of the Trade and Investment
Convention (TIC) at the Centre of Excellence,
Siragon, a company based in the Venezuelan
industrial city of Valencia, with just over a
decade experience in the market, designs and
manufactures all its products in Venezuela.
"We have been in the market for 12 years.
We started off with laptops and PCs, and now
we have expanded into tablets, smartphones
and TVs. We also have a factory in order to
assemble motherboards. We have four dis-
tributors in Venezuela. We have established
the office in Miami, but we are not selling
there as yet," she said.
Despite being in the market for just over
a decade, the company has already won inter-
national awards in the United States.
In 2012, at the International Consumer
Electronics show in Las Vegas, Siragon won
the award for best new desktop computer.
It is also engaged in a design partnership
with luxury car maker BMW for which it
manufactures electronics and collaborates on
Siragon is also building a new plant in
Manaus, Brazil, which will give it more capac-
ity to expand into new markets.
Up to last Thursday when Rios spoke to
the Business Guardian, she said they were
meeting with a "major client" in T&T who
has an interest in buying their products.
Rios said innovative products has brought
the company success over the last 12 years.
"We have something different in each prod-
uct. In the case of the TV, we sell it with an
installation device to put on the wall. In case
of the 'All-In-One' desktop, there are seven
different USB ports and it can also be used
as a TV as it has a connector as an antenna.
As for the tablets, we have different appliances
and different ports, like the HDMI cable, that
is not common in other devices. It also has
its own programme so we can connect other
devices to the tablets," Rios said.
In January, Siragon signed an agreement
with Nanium based in Portugal, which is one
of Europe's leading companies developing,
manufacturing, testing and engineering semi-
conductors which are used in tablets, laptops
The agreement will see Siragon build a
new plant in Venezuela which will give it the
capacity to expand throughout Latin America
and the Caribbean.
Rios said the Siragon brand is cheaper than
other international brands in Venezuela, like
Apple or Microsoft.
"It is a good bargain when customers pur-
chase our products. We are much cheaper
than other computer brands," Rios said.
In terms of market share, she said Siragon
dominates the Venezuelan market, which
means there is strong brand identity in its
country of origin.
"Siragon has 70 per cent of the market in
Venezuela and we continue to launch new
products, although there may be other
brands," she said.
Asked about the cost if these PCs and
tablets were to be retailed in T&T, she said
she did not want to talk about the prices just
"We do not have the prices yet in US dol-
lars. The idea for us is for people to know
the products and then sit and negotiate with
those interests," she said.
Rios recommends that T&T nationals get
familiar with Siragon's TVs, PCs, tablets and
"These are all high quality products. We
are using the best technology and it will be
important for us to get into the T&T market,"
company looks to
T&T to enter region
Melissa Rios, sales manager of Siragon, at the Trade and Investment Convention, Centre of
Excellence, Macoya, last week. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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