Chamber of Industry and Commerce CEO Gabriel Faria said the chamber is pleased with growth in non-energy exports. “This shows the benefit collaboration can bring,” he said.
But while praising that success, Faria expressed concern over the negative impact of certain disincentives such as the non refunding of value added tax by government. He also welcomed the fact that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were involved in the trade that has yielded so much growth in the sector
The Trade Ministry recently issued a release announcing that the value of TT’s total non-energy exports grew by 22 per cent and more than one billion dollars in the first half of 2019 from TT $4.97 Billion to TT $6.07 Billion.
Faria in a message to Newsday said: “I must recognise the excellent work the Ministry of trade and industry and exporTT have been doing in hosting trade missions, training sessions and the work done on the trade policy. They have collaborated with the TT Chamber, other business service organisations and the wider business community in supporting the export effort.”
He said that he has also noted increased exports to the European Union and recognised the work done by the EU delegation in helping many of the SMEs in building their export capacity.
“It is heartening to see some of the growth come from some new sectors. Many SMEs are targeting niche markets internationally and leveraging innovation to create unique market spaces.
“While many of the larger companies have strong regional sales, we are seeing many of the smaller companies leveraging the benefits of the CSME to do more business in the region not just in product but they are also taking advantage of the free movement of people to provide services. This has assisted with the growth in exports of services. We believe leveraging technology will allow this area to grow further.”
He said some companies are also taking advantage of the CSME to make investment opportunities in the region as countries such as Jamaica have been actively pursuing investment from the region. Faria added that the major issue which affects companies as they increase their exports is that they find themselves being owed vat refunds.
“It is counter-intuitive for Government to disincentive exports by not paying VAT refunds for over two years to this group specifically. This has impacted many exporters as it affects their ability to fund their export effort or in extremely instance even meet their local commitments as the VAT refunds have been outstanding for so long. We are therefore hopeful the Ministry of Finance will act quickly on this with a solution which is fair to the tax compliant companies.”