Manufacturing and Retail Distribution

By the Trinidad & Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA), Christian George

Reflecting on the 2018 theme for the annual Trade and Investment Convention (TIC) is an apt way to begin discourse on the current state of affairs of the manufacturing sector. This article maintains an optimistic outlook, acknowledging challenges, but also new horizons and opportunities. Such an outlook is reflective of the ability of the sector’s constituents to successfully operate in the globalized trading environment.

Recent developments for the sector have occurred due to the manufacturers as well as the government. Manufacturers’ continued investments in their plant and equipment result in increased capacity and competitiveness which is needed for their survival and success. Some of these investments have been highlighted in local media, including:

  • Baron Foods Ltd, a manufacturer of sauces and condiments, recently commenced operations in Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Carib Glassworks Ltd’s new furnace that increases capacity to 70,000 tonnes of glass bottles annually.
  • KC Confectionery Limited’s state-of-the-art bubble gum lines, which add 5,000 tonnes of confectionery annually.
Furthermore, the Government has developed initiatives targeted towards the manufacturing sector, including a grant fund facility for machinery and equipment, and the research and development facility (RDF) which focuses on innovation. Applicants can receive as much as $250,000 via the grant fund facility, and $1 million via the RDF.

The aforementioned developments, as well as the others, auger well for the future of the economy. This positive outlook is reflected in the Ministry of Finance review of the economy, which has indicated that the food and beverage, as well as the textiles, clothing, leather, wood, paper and printing sectors are experiencing an upward trend in their respective contributions to GDP (using constant 2012 prices).

Furthermore, notwithstanding the negative GDP growth from 2014, the World Bank forecasts GDP growth rates of 1.9%, 2.2% and 1.6% for the periods 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively. Thus, the outlook for the sector is promising, as this growth would be partly due to the operations of manufacturers.

Such fortunes are not without their challenges. Two primary challenges that affect local manufacturers are inefficient government operations and access to foreign exchange for raw materials.

These problems have been articulated to the government, which has proposed the following solutions: Manufacturer The new services to be offered online are: Manufacturer Trinidad and Tobago is an economy that is open to FDI, and potential investors can benefit from the following:
  • High GDP per capita (USD 16,041 in 2016), which reflects a high standard of living
  • 9.61 months of import cover based on reserves (2016), which exceeds the recommended 3 months of import cover
  • High tertiary education enrolment rate (65%), which suggests access to an educated labour pool
  • Duty-free access to approximately 50 countries, which can increase the price competitiveness of the exports of manufacturers
  • Strong legal rights index, which indicates that the collateral and bankruptcy laws protect the rights of borrowers (which can result in increased borrowing for investment)
  • High availability of scientists and engineers, whose skills are needed for research and development

The above figures, as well as other attractive indicators, are recorded in the World Bank’s database, the Global Competitiveness Index, and the Ease of Doing Business rankings.

Manufacturing in Trinidad and Tobago continues to be an important sector of the economy. Potential in the sector is evident, notwithstanding the existing challenges. Also, the forecast for the economy is positive, which can only redound to the benefit of all, including those who are considering investing in the twin island state. Thus, it is justifiable to conclude by reiterating that there are new horizons and new opportunities for manufacturers in 2018 and beyond.


New Intitiatives

Manufacturers are keen on exploiting these initiatives, and others, as they can boost productivity and competitiveness, leading to increased exports and resulting in increased foreign exchange earnings.

The Government has signalled its intent to launch the following as early as 2018:
  • Implementation of the National Export Strategy
  • Development of new and enhanced suite of incentives
  • Establishment of centres of excellence and technology parks
  • Implementation of the National Quality Policy
Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association’s Proudly T&T campaign.

Launched in 2018, the objectives of the initiative include the engenderment of national pride in locally manufactured products, and the reminder that these products are renowned for quality both locally and internationally. This campaign consists of videos, promotional items, and radio infomercials. Manufacturers have already started incorporating the logo on their respective packaging.

Proudly T&T

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