The TT Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) is "Proudly T&T" and it is hoping to inspire the public to join it in making the country more productive and competitive.
“It’s more than just a corporate social responsibility project. We recognise as a nation we have to get more competitive and productive. We have to live better and get back some sense of pride as a nation,” TTMA president Christopher Alcazar told Business Day. And while it may have started with the manufacturing sector, Alcazar is confident it will by no means end there.
“I hope it can find its way across all the sectors in the nation. Our campaign is not about personalities and politics but about our country and inspiring the next generation to get into manufacturing, which we do see as a way to diversify the economy,” he said. As a source of employment and potential foreign exchange earner, it’s one of the vehicles to a sustainable future, Alcazar said.
Manufacturing has hovered around 8.5 per cent of GDP over the last decade, although in 2016, it dipped to about 7.79 per cent (see table). Alcazar admitted the sector has had its challenges but it’s been through them before and will continue to fight. Manufacturing, he insisted, is by no means struggling.
“Yes, we’ve seen a lull on the local side. The market has softened a bit but many firms have seen growth. On the export side of things, we’re also seeing growth. Different products have cycles, so some are up and some are down but I would say that the manufacturing sector is very resilient,” he said. Getting the country to embrace the need to create a competitive business environment, though, is what he believes can drive that eight per cent GDP share to become more substantial — before energy, currently TT’s primary economic driver takes a dive.
But really, though, Proudly T&T is about rebuilding that sense of pride, he said. “When we talk about Proudly T&T, it’s not just what it means to me, but to everyone, and how each person can get involved. Some of the TTMA’s members have already adopted the logo on their products, including Bertie’s Pepper Sauce, Fresh Start Juices, and CGA Ltd soaps. Others, Alcazar noted, have started using it on their websites and advertising. He, and Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, have also been sporting Proudly T&T badges.
Proudly T&T had a soft launch a few months ago, Alcazar said, and the TTMA has started ramping up its marketing — starting at its annual Trade and Investment Convention last week.
“It’s not about manufacturing or just reaching the business community but reaching the wider Trinidad and Tobago community in terms of us getting out there to everybody and getting to that core of wanting to do what is right and building back our nation,” Alcazar said.