Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago highlight growing business ties during trade mission
Minister of Finance Colm Imbert has said the relationship between Jamaica and TT continues to develop as the states build stronger ties through trade and commerce.
Imbert highlighted Musson/Seprod Ltd from Jamaica acquiring Brydens TT in June 2022 and Guardian Holdings' acquisition by NCB Jamaica in May 2019.
Speaking at the Jamaican Producers Corporation trade mission to TT, Imbert said the buyouts left Bryden and Guardian Holdings better off.
The trade mission is a collaboration between the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce and Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO).
The two-day mission ran from March 9-10 at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain and followed a recent TT trade mission to Jamaica, where Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister Senator Aubyn Hill accepted Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon’s invitation to lead a reciprocal business mission to TT.
Eighteen Jamaican companies and entities participated, with a total of 25 participants.
Interim CEO at Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority Kelli-Dawn Hamilton said, "We have a long history of partnership,we have a long history of commitment to each other and think this trade mission is the perfect example, a culmination of that strong tradition and rich history."
Hamilton said members of the Jamaican delegation are excited and energised by the opportunity presented in TT, and likewise TT delegates are energised by opportunities in Jamaica.
"This is how we must work together to ensure our countries develop the way we want them to develop. Partnership is the name of the game."
In his welcome and opening remarks, Hill said, "Recently the Musson Group acquired Brydens TT, which is a well-established company, but you won't recognise it in a few years."
Hill said the company will change and work well across the region.
Elaborating on NCB's acquisition of Guardian Holdings during his presentation, Imbert said Jamaica's largest banking conglomerate, NCB Financial Group, has finalised the acquisition of an additional 74.23 million shares in Guardian Holdings Ltd, which doubles its ownership of the regional insurance group to 62 per cent, at a cost of US$207 million ($28 billion).
“NCB took over Guardian and it has been going very well, from what I see.”
He referred to the oil shock of 2015, when the state lost US$3 billion owing to a fall in the price of oil from US$100 to US$25 in 2016.
Imbert pointed out that TT is energy-dependent, but added, "Fortunately there is the Sovereign Wealth Fund, which has helped cushion the potentially detrimental blow to economy due to the covid19 pandemic, followed by the war in Ukraine.
“It's not as rosy as it was in 2022, but non-oil sectors are earning much more than years in the past."
TT also has a healthy foreign investments and heritage fund, US$7 million and US$6 million respectively.
Imbert said, "TT is one of the world’s largest exporters of urea and ammonia. Though oil and gas prices have fallen we can look forward to a good.”
He highlighted recent positive developments in the local economy as TT moves toward building a diverse economy. He mentioned the US issuing a waiver for TT to acquire natural gas from Venezuela, reports of a 20 per cent increase in non-energy industries in the past two years and putting structures in place to encourage e-commerce and cashless transactions.
Imbert also reinforced the important of incentivising famers. Agriculture is to be made completely tax-free.
Hill reinforced the optimistic rhetoric, highlighting economic strides being made in Jamaica where the trade deficit with TT is 35:11, Jamaica being out of the IMF programme and a reduced general consumption tax (GCT), which was cut from 16.5 per cent to 15 per cent and has not been increased in six years.
Hill said, "I am happy to be leading the delegation to ensure we continue to grow and expand collectively in a way we hadn't in the past – a better way."
"Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago highlight growing business ties during trade mission"