Trade Ministry allocates $20m for SME certification

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

THE TRADE MINISTRY, in conjuction with the TT Manufacturers' Association and ExporTT, on Tuesday launched the National Export Booster Initiative, a suite of 16 programmes to enhance export promotion, capacity building and institutional strengthening within the manufacturing sector. The initiatives are intended to increase TT’s export value by 10 per cent by the end of the 2020/2021 fiscal year, and to double its $2.7 billion dollar input into TT’s economy by 2024. The project will outline how the $50 million allocated to the manufacturing sector by Finance Minster Colm Imbert last October will be spent. (

$20 million will go to implementing a certification programme for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to support manufacturers' ability to meet international standards and be certified to export internationally.

“A major challenge to growing exports is the ability of our manufacturers to meet international standards,” Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said at the launch, held at Nicholas Tower, Independence Square. “While the government is actively implementing a National Quality Policy to strengthen national quality infrastructure and improve the availability and reliability of testing and certification services in the long term, it is critical this is addressed in the immediate term.”

Gopee-Scoon said the booster will foot the bill for certification costs up to $500,000. With that support SME’s would have the ability to build capacity in conducting standards audits, inspections and implement suggestions made by auditors, acquiring equipment and making infrastructural modifications to comply with these standards.

People earning less than $1 million in exports are eligible for 100 per cent funding; people making less than $2 million are eligible for 75 per cent; those making between $2 million and $4 million can get 50 per cent.

Manufacturers whose products provide a substitute for imported goods will also be covered, and those whose products substitute less than $25 million in imported products will receive 100 per cent funding for their certification costs up to $500,000.

The programme will also include setting up a trade facilitation office, sharing market intelligence, virtual missions and manufacturing support for importing green packaging and development in TT.

TTMA president Franka Costelloe expressed deep gratitude and said the initiatives shows government’s support for the manufacturing industry, which employs 10 per cent of the working population.

“It should not be taken for granted the value that the manufacturing sector brings to TT,” Costelloe said. “It supports 52,300 jobs. It is manufacturing and construction that we will see recovery of our economy. This comes at a critical and exciting time for new opportunities. The onus is now on the private sector and individual entrepreneurs to come and recognise the opportunities that were put on the table.”


"Trade Ministry allocates $20m for SME certification"

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