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Paula Gopee-Scoon Minister of Trade and Industry Enterprise Development

Cabinet has approved a TT$50 million export booster initiative for the manufacturing sector, the objective of which is to promote exports of manufactured goods.

At the launch yesterday, Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said manufacturing remains important and dynamic in the domestic economy.

She added it is a major contributor to the country’s GDP, a net foreign exchange earner and a major employer and with over 52,000 workers.

The minister noted that on average the manufacturing sector has exported approximately TT$3 billion worth of goods annually.

Gopee-Scoon explained that the Trade Ministry in collaboration with exporTT and the T&T Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) developed this initiative to increase the export value of manufactured goods by ten per cent at the end of the fiscal year 2020/2021 from TT$2.7 billion in 2019 and to double that to TT$5.4 billion by 2024.

The initiative is made up of 16 measures under three broad strategic areas including export promotion (accelerating internationalisation), capacity building and institutional strengthening.

Gopee-Scoon said steps to establish a presence in international markets include trade facilitation offices, establishment of trade attachés, market intelligence, virtual trade missions, translating services, in-market promotion, virtual expo platform and sector profiles.

“T&T currently experiences very good success from its trade facilitation office in Cuba. Government will allocate TT $3 million for a trade facilitation office to promote export growth in Panama, Costa Rica and neighbouring Central American countries.

“The Central American market offers significant potential for local exporters. The region’s purchasing power is in excess of US$270 billion and has a combined market size of over 51 million consumers,” Gopee-Scoon said.

She said trade attaches which are trade experts attached to the T&T Embassy are being considered for markets such as Jamaica and Guyana to further improve market penetration.

The minister said these markets together with the US have been the top markets of interest among local exporters for the last three years.

Regarding in-market promotion, Gopee-Scoon said it is important that exporters have a sustained market presence to continuously generate export revenue.

She added that exporTT will allocate $1.5 million to provide the in-market promotion activities which include shelf stocking fees, shipping of samples for tastings and in-store promotions.

This initiative will target 20 companies.

A virtual expo platform will also be established for continuous use across multiple sectors aimed at providing buyers with 24/7 access to local exporters.

Gopee-Scoon said to ensure that T&T’s products qualify for entry in their intended markets, $2 million will be allocated to assist exporters improve their product labelling and reduce the cost of product testing services.

Further, she said to fast-track the transformation of potential local business into first-time exporters, $2.2 million will be allocated to an export accelerator programme at exporTT.