TT is no longer in a recession. Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon made this statement as she addressed the TT Manufacturers Association’s (TTMA) annual general meeting at the Hilton Trinidad yesterday. She thanked outgoing TTMA president Christopher Alcazar for the association’s partnering with Government while the country was “deep in the throes of the recession.”
Gopee-Scoon said, “We are out of the recession. We have had some small growth for 2018.” Gopee-Scoon said Government was hoping to build on that growth this year. She said manufacturing contributed just over over $32 billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A recession is when an economy declines significantly for at least six months. A recession also happens when the GDP growth rate is negative for two consecutive quarters or more.
In his 2018/2019 budget presentation in Parliament on October 1, 2018, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said the economy was projected to grow by 1.9 per cent last year. But Imbert cautioned, “We are not out of the woods yet and our economy is still vulnerable to external shocks.” The 2018 Review of the Economy supported Imbert’s statement about 1.9 per cent growth in 2018. Energy sector contribution to GDP was 38.2, 37.8 , 36.6 , 35.3, 35.9 and 36.1 per cent from 2013 to 2018, respectively Non-energy sector contribution to GDP over the same period was 60.3, 61, 61.3, 63.4, 62.8 and 61.7 per cent respectively. Manufacturing was one of seven leading contributors to real economic growth in 2018. This sector was expected to grow by 7.3 per cent last year.
In its last monetary policy report on March 29, the Central Bank said recovery in the energy sector continued into the final quarter of 2018. There was also a 26.7 per cent increase in non-energy production in the final quarter of 2018. The increase occurred in the food manufacturing, beverage and tobacco industries. The bank said retail sales and new car registrations were some signs of increased non-energy activity from the end of 2018 into early 2019. The acceleration of certain public sector works would have an impact on investment in the coming quarters, the bank added.
Former trade minister Vasant Bharath said while TT had experienced some growth, it was premature to say it is out of recession. Bharath said while Government was anticipating one per cent growth this year, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank were projecting that growth could be lower. He said there is “nothing on the horizon” to encourage sustainable economic growth in TT. Bharath said the economic impact of the closure of Petrotrin last year had not been assessed as yet.
TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce CEO Gabriel Faria agreed there had been some growth on a macro-economic level. He explained that growth resulted in the generation of business activities and consumer spending. Faria said, so far, the trickle down effect of this growth to the ordinary citizen had not been seen as yet. The chamber, he added, remains “cautiously optimistic” that this would happen.