It is without a doubt that the covid19 pandemic has shattered world trade, but even as the profit margins were not as expected, the TT Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) said new markets have emerged which this country is more than capable of tapping into.
At the TTMA president’s award dinner at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain on Tuesday night, outgoing president Franka Costelloe said 2020 figures export showed a five per cent decrease to $3.3 billion.
She noted that despite this setback, the TTMA was pushing to increase exports from about $3.6 billion to $7 billion by 2025 via a three-phase strategy to stabilise, strengthen and secure the sector.
Costelloe explained that stabilisation of the economy is in the hands of the small to medium enterprises (SME) as the global oil gas markets have contracted owing to the pandemic.
“Strength will come from our SMEs and new market entrants to safeguard and secure the sector. With an estimated decline of 30 per cent in 2020, and among new entries with 326 (fewer) exporters, it is imperative that we act decisively in the interest of SMEs to stimulate growth,” she lobbied.
Costello said the top manufacturing enterprises in TT during the pandemic were food and beverage; construction; plastic, paper and packaging; household products; tobacco; and personal protective equipment.
“The pandemic has pushed global demands for essentials, particularly medical and food supplies. Of our 1,154 exporters, 18 of them are manufacturers of food and beverages. We are therefore well positioned to capture this demand in the regional markets as we clearly specialise in manufacturing of essentials.
“In 2020, TT manufactured 220,000 face shields, 1.5 million masks, 357,000 gallons of hand sanitisers valued at over $105 million in just eight months. This was mostly used for local consumption, and we are now asking for a push on that production for export.”
The ease of business remained a challenge, but Costelloe hoped the renewed commitment by government to hold agencies accountable would be a much-needed improvement.
“Specific to illicit trade, we have initiated intense advocacy to curb this practice that has been completely undermining legit businesses, honest taxpayers, jeopardising our health with unregulated products and financing other illicit markets such as trafficking of drugs, weapons, animals and people."
She said the Government has estimated that TT loses $12-$15 billion per annum from illicit trade,
TTMA president’s awardees:
Green manufacturer of year – Trinidad Tissues Ltd.
Innovator of the year – Coconut Growers Association
Exporter of the year – SM Jaleel
Manufacturer of the year small and medium category – RHS Ltd.
Manufacturer of the year large category – Angostura Holdings Ltd.
The pivot award (adaptation to the new normal – a new category) – Nestle Trinidad Ltd.
The lifetime achievement award was given to Amjad Ai, former TTMA president and director at Serta Caribbean Ltd, for his work in assisting SMEs and education development in capacity-building of the labour force.