Trinidad and Tobago, China working to enhance trade relations

Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon. - Photo by Sureash Cholai
Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon. - Photo by Sureash Cholai

Trade and Investment Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said the establishment of Chinese companies Phoenix Park Industrial Estate will enhance the state of trade relations and co-operation between the governments of TT and China. The park is expected to be completed in May 2022.

She was speaking at the first China-Trinidad and Tobago Investment Cooperation Forum on Wednesday. The virtual forum was attended by over 60 entities from China and TT.

The estate will have two leasable lots for commercial activity, 76 lots for light industrial activity, and five 50,000 square foot shells.

Chinese Ambassador Fang Qui said China was the only major economy registering positive growth in the year 2020.

“China’s GDP exceeded US$15.42 trillion threshold, and its total import and export of goods exceeded US$4.9 trillion, while its outward investment surpassed US$130 billion, making China the largest foreign investor in the world. Trade between China and its Belt Road co-operation partners alone had surpassed US$1.35 trillion. Through the first half of 2021, China’s GDP increased by 12.7 per cent, and its total trade volume increased by 27.1 per cent to the sum of US$2.8 trillion.

"China has replaced the US as the largest market for retail and consumer goods. We are confident that China's national rejuvenation has become a historical inevitability.”

He said TT is one of China’s most important partners and China is ready to make continued efforts to further boost co-operation in the post-covid era.

“China’s 14th Five-year Plan Guideline and Long-Range Objectives through the Year 2035 share high similarity with TT’s Vision 2030, especially in terms of the people-centred spirit, the focus on high-quality development, international co-operation and green development.

"Now TT is lifting the restrictive measures and restoring production in an orderly manner, and reopening its borders and attracting foreign investment to achieve the strategy of economic diversification. This provides greater opportunities for our economic, trade and investment co-operation.”

Fang said he hoped those at the forum would brainstorm ways to consolidate co-operation in areas such as energy, light manufacturing, telecommunications and infrastructure, and to actively explore collaboration opportunities in new energy, IT, digital economy, marine economy and other future industries.

Gopee-Scoon said TT became the first English-speaking Caribbean country to sign on to the Belt and Road Initiative on May 14, 2018. She noted the positive growth of the Chinese economy over the past two years.

“I find this to be a truly commendable position and recognise that it was due to the continued expansion of Chinese multinational enterprises, mergers and acquisitions and ongoing Belt and Road Initiative projects.

"Of most importance to us, of course, is the potential to attract more Chinese investment to TT as this country, like many others in our region, is steadily recovering from the negative impact of the covid19 pandemic on global foreign direct investment.

She said foreign direct investment in Latin America and the Caribbean reportedly dropped by 45 per cent, "which was the steepest decline among developing regions. Factors such as a collapse in export demand and reduced commodity prices weighed heavily on our investment prospects during these uncertain times.”

InvestTT president Sekou Alleyne said the organisation had been working with the Beijing Construction Engineering Group as well as the TT Embassy in Beijing, to raise awareness of TT as an investment destination and to promote the Phoenix Park Industrial Estate as a base of operations for Chinese firms.

Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation Institute of American and Oceania Study deputy director Zhou Mi said some possible areas of bilateral co-operation between TT and China were in the areas of climate change; enabling movement between the two countries; and enhancing the digital economy.

InvesTT investment director Videsh Maharaj said the goals of TT’s trade policy from 2019-2023 were to provide an improved facilitative and enabling environment for international trade, as well as growth in the production and export of non-energy goods and services, high-value-added goods and services, share of Caricom trade, including trade in services and market share within traditional and non-traditional markets.

He said there were several pieces of legislation governing trade in TT, including the Foreign Investment, Corporation Tax, Customs and Excise, Fiscal Incentives, Occupational Health and Safety , Income Tax (in aid of industry), and the Free Trade Zone/ Special Economic Zones acts.

Incentives, he said, included tax exemptions on customs duty, value added tax (VAT), and income tax on dividends and other distributions, as well as tax allowances such as capital-expense allowance on machinery and equipment, training allowance, promotional expense allowance, and sponsorship allowance.

Other presenters included interim chargé d’affaires of the TT Embassy in Beijing Adrian Thomas, Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce chief economist Luo Zhisong, InvesTT vice president Pramilla Ramdahani, Beijing Construction Engineering Group TT general manager Ma Shulong, First Caribbean Marketing Company CEO Cheng Xiang (Charles Cheng), China Railway Construction Corporation International Investment Co. Ltd chairman Liao Jun, Overseas Enterprise Management Department of Oriental International (Holding) Co Ltd general manager Zhang Min, Yutong Bus Co, Ltd sales representative of the Caribbean Regions Zhang Xin, Huawei LATAM public relations vice president Cesar Funes Garay, China Equipment International Trading Co., Ltd general manager Zhao Yan, and Cainiao Latin America general manager Li Tao.


"Trinidad and Tobago, China working to enhance trade relations"

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