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Minister of Trade and Industry, Paula Gopee-Scoon and managing director, Witco, Laurent Meffre cut the ribbon at the recommissioning of the factory at Eastern Main Road, Mt Hope, yesterday.

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Amid the raging pandemic and the second shutdown in two years, Witco upgraded its plant operations and up-skilled its human resource – an investment valued at approximately $85 million, the company’s managing director Laurent Meffre said.

Speaking at the factory’s recommissioning and ribbon-cutting ceremony held at the company’s compound at Champ Fleurs yesterday, Meffre said despite the uncertainties T&T was facing the initiative “remains a clear demonstration” of Witco’s commitment to the recovery and growth of the country, adding that it underpins Witco’s strong belief in the “Made in T&T” both for domestic consumption and exports.

According to Meffre as a manufacturing export hub for the Caribbean, 54 per cent of Witco’s manufactured volume is exported regionally, generating US$20 million in foreign exchange annually.

“Witco is an institution in the economic landscape of this country and, in good times and in bad, we are here to stay,” Meffre emphasised.

Further, he added that Witco has always been supportive of the country’s economic agenda and the Government.

Witco’s manufacturing manager, Taran Persad, also noted that like many other businesses in the sector, the last two years posed unprecedented challenges to the company’s operations.

However, he noted that in this challenging socio-economic environment the company has been able to exhibit the “grit to forge” ahead, by firstly maintaining full adherence to all COVID-19 protocols to assure the safety of employees, while at the same time ensuring that all markets continued to be supplied on time in full, avoiding any stock outages and the triggering of costly external contingency supply sources.

Persad explained that the operations team utilised the integrated work system model to foster a culture of “total employee ownership and a zero-loss mindset” to deliver improvements year on year in key performance areas, including overall equipment effectiveness, quality improvement and waste reduction with the sole aim of providing the best value customers.

Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, who also spoke, said a strong manufacturing sector creates a sure path to economic prosperity.

She added that T&T’s manufacturing sector is a long-standing and important pillar of economic development, contributing to GDP and job creation.

According to data from the Central Statistical Office, in 2021, the manufacturing sector contributed just over $26 billion (or 18 per cent) to the overall GDP, the ministry cited.

However, Gopee-Scoon said if T&T is to remain competitive, continued investment in manufacturing is essential.

“We need investment in cutting-edge technology and in policies and practices that are progressive and in line with global standards. As business models evolve,” she added.