Launch of National Services Export Campaign & Gateway to Trade Project – Go Global TT Services
September 8th, 2021 | Related To: The Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries (TTCSI)
The year 2020 has been a challenging year for businesses and citizens across the globe. At the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development held in November last year, the overwhelming consensus was that a strong economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic requires governments to make prioritisation of the services sector a key component of their policy mix. The TTCSI firmly believes that the services sector holds the key to export diversification as the sector itself is quite diverse and includes business and professional services, construction, information and communication technology (ICT), energy, finance, transport, and tourism and travel services among many others.
The services sector is the largest sector in Trinidad and Tobago’s economy contributing a combined total of 72% or TT$115 billion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in fiscal year 2017, employing over 85% of the labour force. In 2018, the sector contributed an estimated 58% to GDP, followed by 53% in 2019. Despite our success at home, the services sector accounts for less than 10% of export earnings. The services sector therefore has significant scope for growth in terms of export generation with recent developments in ICT making it much easier to digitally execute services for clients anywhere in the world.
It is important to also point out that most advanced economies do not distinguish between manufactured goods and services. These economies focus on ‘servicification’. The servicification of manufacturing means that the manufacturing sector is increasingly reliant on services, whether as inputs, as activities within firms or as output, sold bundled with goods. According to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), services contribute to over 30% of the value of manufacturing exports. Thus, we should not be pegging sectors against each other, but work collaboratively for the sustainability of both.
Pre-pandemic, the TTCSI in line with its mandate was already spearheading several initiatives geared at developing a cadre of services exporters in Trinidad and Tobago. Today, we are here to formally launch our National Services Export Campaign. This campaign was informed by rigorous research conducted in 2019 / 2020 which included a survey of potential and existing services exporters. The findings of which identified key challenges preventing service companies from expanding their business. After several consultations and focus groups with stakeholders, recommendations were put forward to address the current limitations experienced by the services sector and to position the sector to take advantage of export opportunities on the horizon.
As a result, TTCSI decided that we needed to take a more strategic approach to the expansion of the services sector by incorporating all our export initiatives under a single forward-looking internationalisation strategy – an export call to action for the services sector.
It is with great pleasure therefore that we officially launch our first ever national services export campaign – “Go Global TT Services”.
What does Go Global TT Services mean?
The overall objective of this campaign is to nurture and develop services sector firms that have the capacity to export. Our goal is to provide the services sector with the tools to inculcate an ‘exporter’s mindset’ thereby enabling our members to grow and expand their businesses regionally and internationally.
The Go Global TT Services campaign comprises of five initiatives:
The foundation block is the Services Go Global (SGG) Training Programme.
The programme follows a logical, sequenced approach to exporting – a Roadmap – that takes exporters through four stages and twelve modules of export preparation. With the completion of each module, elements of the service provider’s export plan are developed and finalised. Service providers who undertake the course will come away having completed the essential elements of their export plan and will have gained the valuable skills necessary to successfully engage in the international marketplace.
Within the past two years, the TTCSI has produced 140 graduates of the SGG programme with full funding and support from Caribbean Export. Building on this foundation, I am pleased to now also launch the next stage of our national services export campaign – from export-ready to export acceleration. Today, we embark on the first phase of the GATEWAY to Trade project (G2T). G2T takes SGG to the next level. It is a nine-month market readiness accelerator programme which in the first phase targets 80 firms with export experience commencing this month. It is the first time that this programme will be rolled out in Trinidad and Tobago. Key elements include: market connections, tailored business coaching/mentoring as well as enterprise and product upgrading assistance. Our next presenters, Michelle Hustler and Theo Ward, are co-creators of the Services Go Global and GATEWAY to Trade export programmes,. They were selected because unlike other accelerator programmes, the G2T programme includes a “Train the Trainer” element. This means that beyond 2023, the TTCSI and exporTT will have certified trained in – house talent to execute this programme independently. Thereby ensuring project sustainability and the development of local human capacity.
The third initiative is the National Services Exporters Portal: Branding the ‘local services hub’: Although Trinidad and Tobago have a wide range of service industries, a ‘local services hub’ branding strategy does not currently exist. The National Services Exporters Portal’s over-all objective is to position, brand, market and promote Trinidad and Tobago as an international services hub. Activities which will support its development include the creation of a local services cluster development portal, inward/outward trade missions and proactive media engagement. A network of local services firms will be established as this will enable businesses to become globalised quickly through shared expertise and opportunities. This network will act as a local advisor on international markets, develop market entry strategies, organise trade workshops and provide in-depth market reports. It will also facilitate the exchange of experiences and knowledge of international markets by encouraging dialogue between service companies, governments and technology suppliers on the e-commerce side. The high cost of exporting has been a major challenge for both exporters and non-exporters in the local services sector and as a result firms could use this ‘local services hub’ to engage in joint marketing efforts such as branding, market research, and bundling of services which would help reduce export costs.
Promotion of e-commerce practices: The overall marketing promotion strategy will be expanded to include the development of multiple integrated sales channels. Special emphasis will be placed on the use of new digital media such as social media, mobile applications and online advertising. A clear, consistent, and compelling message which drives demand to the local services sector must be delivered through all channels.
And finally – we culminate all these projects by recognising the top services exporter in the Caribbean under the newly re-launched Caribbean Lawrence Placide Services Go Global Award. The Award was named in honour of the first President of the TTCSI.
This is a defining moment for the Trinidad and Tobago services sector. I urge our member associations and all services providers to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the TTCSI:
- Graduates of the Services Go Global Programme can apply for the Caribbean Lawrence Placide Award
- Trinidad and Tobago services companies can register on our National Services Exporters Portal, which will help us market your business
- And finally, I call on all services companies in Trinidad and Tobago to apply for participation in the first phase of the GATEWAY to Trade Export Accelerator Programme.
Together we can make a difference and put services export on the front burner.