Trade minister wants talks on intra-regional stock exchange

Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE
Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE

Any consideration of an intra-regional stock exchange must take into account how such an exchange would help local markets, Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said Wednesday.

Speaking at a virtual panel discussion titled A Caribbean Business Forum: Establishing New Business Relationships, Gopee-Scoon said she would speak on the matter further at Caricom's Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), where conversations of that nature are held. She added that Government is encouraging small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to join the TT Stock Exchange's junior market to get access to equity financing. Citing Jamaica as an example of the benefit to SMEs, she noted: “The junior stock exchange in Jamaica has been doing well and the importance of it is the access to finance which is the bugbear for the growth of SMEs.”

Dr Didacus Jules, director general of the OECS Commission said while their stock exchange is not as dynamic as he would like, they had an agreement with Jamaica to assist in its development. “There is a need for the consolidation of efforts,” Jules said.

Noting that covid19 had dealt all businesses in all sectors a heavy blow, Gopee-Scoon said businesses had to focus on staying afloat before thinking about pivoting to benefit from opportunities arising out of the pandemic.

“Pivoting would mean staying on course and surviving the pandemic. Despite our constraints we were able to introduce and provide support to businesses. Through Nedco we were able to provide grant funding and we provided loan guarantees through the commercial banking systems.”

She said up to $300 million was provided through the loan systems and a further $200 million for not only individuals but small businesses who bank with credit unions. Another $400 million was provided for the supply of essential goods and to support manufacturers.

She said the way forward would be to ensure that whatever products are brought to the markets are acceptable internationally.

“Its about new product ideas and services that are indigenous to the region.”

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