Strengthening and formalising the services sector is crucial because of its potential to create value-added and knowledge-based opportunities aligned with TT’s strong human resource and skills development capacity, says Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon.
Paula Gopee-Scoon said while international trade can boost economic development, reduce poverty, broaden the productive base, generate foreign exchange and encourage competition; these benefits can only be actualised through a robust business sector.
She said the government understands its role of stimulating business activity and facilitating increased competitiveness to impact trade performance, and as such is taking the necessary action to remove any excessive barriers in order to expand business opportunities for local companies and also to increase TT’s exports.
“You will be aware that our economy is primarily industrial, focusing on the production of petroleum, natural gas and petrochemicals. Oil and gas account for about 40 per cent of GDP, 80 per cent of exports and 3.5 per cent of employment. Non-energy exports account for roughly 20 per cent of total exports and manufacturing accounts for around 9 per cent of GDP and 8 per cent of employment.”
“While the services sector comprises only 12 per cent of total exports and contributes approximately 56 per cent of GDP. Diversification in this regard, is a major national agenda item concomitant with the impetus to expand the non-energy sectors,” she said.
Gopee-Scoon was speaking at the eighth annual Business Development Seminar and Expo entitled, “The Role of Entrepreneurship and Trade in Economic Development: With Reference to TT” at the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC), Maracas, St Joseph.
She said through the ministry, the government is currently developing strategies and policies to aid the development and growth of targeted sectors including manufacturing, commercial maritime and the creative industries as all these possess considerable export potential to markets in Chile, Panama, the European Union, and the United States.
“Formulated trade facilitation and export strategies are intended to, in the long run, increase the value exports from the non-energy sectors such that these exports account for 40 per cent of total export earnings by 2030; increase the number of new products exported to targeted markets and facilitate an increase in the export of services,” Gopee-Scoon said.