Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon is calling on manufacturers to take advantage of the opportunities available following the recent Agricultural Investment Forum.
From August 19-21, 2022, the government hosted the first Agricultural Investment Forum and Expo, with the aim of reducing the Caricom region’s food import bill by 25% by 2025.
Gopee-Scoon, who delivered the keynote address at the opening of the 23rd Annual Trade and Investment (TIC) Convention on Wednesday night at the Macoya Center of Excellence, said that to achieve this goal, the development of regional value chains in agriculture. and agribusiness.
“The private sector organization Caricom has identified 19 potential agribusiness investment opportunities as part of the goal of reducing the regional food import bill. In addition, a food development plan between the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the Republic of Guyana identifies the following priority areas for further development which include aquaculture, rice, agribusiness and food distribution, animal production, coconut, corn and soybeans.
“The private sector is invited to capitalize on investment opportunities along the value chain in the growth and production of primary products, sorting and processing, manufacturing, packaging, transport, distribution and brokerage, wholesale and retail trade and to engage in reshaping the value chains associated with the food and beverage sector.
“It is fortuitous that this year’s TIC was preceded by the country’s first-ever Agri-Expo, as there are many backward and forward linkages between the agriculture, manufacturing and energy sectors. downstream,” she said.
She noted that the government was also supporting the private sector in strengthening and advancing supply chains through the export implementation of the International Certification Fund (ICF), which is an initiative under the Export Booster Initiative.
“The overall goal of the initiative is to facilitate the continued evolution of the manufacturing sector to become globally competitive, productive and innovative. Along these lines, the ICF helps exporters obtain international certification of compliance for food/beverages and other products in order to meet the quality and safety standards of international markets and franchises; reducing the amount of imported goods that can be produced locally (i.e. import substitution); and stimulate the production of non-energy exports. A total of 11 companies have benefited from the ICF to date and there is room for many more companies to participate in this expansion opportunity,” she said. She said that in addition to this, the negotiation and expansion of trade agreements with Central, South and Latin American countries continue to create new opportunities for proximity.
“Re-shoring and near shoring have become necessary to maintain an advantage not only for growth, but also to prepare for what could be the next disruption. The private sector is therefore encouraged to redo and diversify its supply chains by identifying multiple sources of raw materials, multiple production sites and multiple warehouse centers and distribution channels,” she said.
Strong manufacturing sector
She noted that in 2021, the manufacturing sector accounted for 19.3% of real GDP valued at around $26.4 billion.
“Its importance is also evident as the sector has historically employed over 52,000 people,” she said.
She said that according to the most recent data available from the Central Bureau of Statistics, manufacturing exports increased by 7.7% in the fourth quarter of 2021, from $6.19 billion to $6.66 billion.
“The strongest growth was in the food, beverage and tobacco sub-sectors, growing from $1.58 billion to $1.84 billion, an increase of 16%. This growth has continued into 2022,” she said.
Highlighting the importance of the sector, she noted that according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the Covid-19 pandemic has drawn attention to the role of the manufacturing industry in the social and economic resilience of economies. national across three dimensions.
“The first dimension involves the role of manufacturing industries as providers of essential goods that are essential to life and national security. The second highlights the role of manufacturers in providing essential goods to deal with the emergency itself. The third dimension concerns the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the recovery and growth of national economies,” she said.
The ICT theme this year is “Business Resilience”. The show, which has 127 stands representing around 180 companies, runs until Sunday.
“Some 34 countries have registered to be part of the event with 25 international companies physically present. There will be over 250 B2B meetings and some 21 educational and informative webinars. The TTMA (Trinidad and Tobago) has worked hard to maintain the high quality of its offerings that attendees have come to expect,” said TTMA President Tricia Coosal.