Road to Recovery
February 27th, 2023
President, Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA)
A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step and last year 2021, Trinidad and Tobago took its first step on the road to pandemic recovery with its mass vaccination campaign, ‘Vaccinate to Operate.’ From that point to now, a few other obstacles have been tossed along the path. Two key ones have been the global supply chain problems and fallout from the war in Ukraine. Still, Trinidad and Tobago is bravely stepping forward as a nation and working to rebuild essential parts of its local economy that bore the brunt of the pandemic issues. Stepping in the right direction is reason enough to have a positive outlook and to be cheerful about the future of business and the economy.
The Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (the Bank) gives us grounds for optimism. A recent publication of the Bank’s showed increase in productivity in the non-energy sector for the first three quarters of 2021. This position was further supported by the Minister of Finance pronouncement in the 2022 Mid-Term Budget Report, where he highlighted the increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a result of significant positive movement of a number of sectors of the economy, including the non-energy manufacturing sector to surpass pre-pandemic levels.
Of course, a certain level of proactiveness is required to progress the journey along the path and too, an essential, to make it pleasant. To these ends, the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturing Association (TTMA) intensified its efforts to open and solidify new markets for the manufacturing sector via our trade missions, particularly within the CARICOM community. We believe that by looking inward to CARICOM and solidifying our existing trade relationships we may be able to mitigate the impact to stabilise, strengthen and grow despite international constraining factors. In 2022, we have already hosted trade missions to Guyana and Suriname and others are planned, some in collaboration with exporTT. Additionally, the TTMA hosted its annual Trade and Investment Convention (TIC), live again, after a two-year break, from 25–27 August 2022. The face-to-face meetings of business interests again generated meaningful investment opportunities for participating parties.
The Government’s extension of the Foreign Exchange Facility at EXIMBANK in the 2022 has also allowed us to be optimistic about realising our objective to double non-energy exports in five years. The facility made available by the Ministry of Finance has given businesses access to funds to buy foreign goods and services. Certainly, the capacity of our human resources is a top priority.
As such, our team has put in place several agreements with training institutions such as The UWI, MIC Institute of Technology (MIC-IT) and the Ministry of Trade to identify and close skill gaps in the job market. We have no doubt that the road to economic recovery is a long one, but at the TTMA we believe that we have the right combination of strategy and partnership to see us through all the miles that lie ahead.
By Natalie Dookie