Mark Edghill, president of the TT Coalition of Services Industries (TTCSI), has said the European Union (EU) is TT’s second largest trading partner.
He was speaking at the TTCSI's Doing Business with the World Series webinar on Wednesday, which put a spotlight on the EU.
He said the TTCSI has been working with the EU to build export capacity and ready the service sector under TTCSI’s Gateway to Trade programme.
Edghill said according to the UN comtrade database, TT’s exports to the EU were worth US$5.88 billion in 2022.
Mineral fuels, oils and distillation products accounted for US$3.88 billion, with inorganic chemicals, precious metal compounds and isotopes running a distant second at US$684.23 million. Organic chemicals rounded out the top three exports at approximately US$639 million; and fertilisers were the fourth largest export, at almost US$440 million.
“We also noted that EU imports of beverages, spirits and vinegar from TT amounted to US$11.7 million in 2022,” he said.
He added that EU exports to TT were US$1.11 billion in 2022. This included US$617.10 in mineral fuels, oils, and distillation products; US$101.14 million in machinery products; US$50.38 million in food products such as dairy, eggs, honey and food preparations of vegetables, fruits and nuts combined. Vehicles and electrical and electronic equipment combined came up to US$48.43 million.
TT and the EU share long-standing bilateral and trade relations.
In modern times, TT’s economic relationship with the EU was cemented by the Cotonou Agreement, which was signed in 2000 by the 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states, the EU member states and community.
“The original agreement was due to expire in 2020, but has been extended until a successor agreement to replace has been reached. However, TT has already initialled the New Cotonou Agreement, which paves the way for the beneficial relationship we enjoy with the EU to continue,” Edghill said.
Trade relations between TT and the EU are also based on the 2008 CARIFORUM-EU economic partnership agreement (EPA), which covers all areas of economic activity, such as manufactured goods, services, intellectual property and investment. It also offers TT free access for its goods and services to the EU market, while TT will gradually introduce tariff reductions for an agreed set of goods over 25 years for imports from the EU.
Also speaking at the webinar, ambassador of the EU Delegation to TT Peter Cavendish said, “The TT-EU relationship was built on and continues to thrive in areas of critical importance to the society, including agriculture, digital transformation, education, health and national security.”
Cavendish outlined key sectors of growth between the EU and the Caribbean such as tourism, agriculture, the cocoa sector, maritime investment, green energy, cultural heritage and animation.
He said the EU is very keen to work with local business in these areas to promote TT talent and enterprise.
TT also has signed bilateral investment treaties with some individual EU countries, including Spain, France and Germany.
The TTCSI said one of its main tools in achieving the goal of "Doing Business with the World" is through the national services exporters’ portal (NSEP).
“By September 2023 NSEP will be known as TTCSI’s international services hub, that we developed to help TT’s services sector firms be seen by, and make connections with, services-sector firms in other countries. It is a critical pillar supporting our global initiative,” Edghill said.