Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee- Scoon has noted that this country together with the rest of the world is currently experiencing a critical time as we’re facing a fair amount of challenges.
Speaking at the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce Business Outlook event on Thursday, the Minister said, however, “No doubt we are in a position to confront and get a grip of these and prepare ourselves for the tremendous amount of opportunity that is possible given the right set of circumstances.”
The Minister further noted that the Government also acknowledges the impact inflation and rising prices are having on businesses and consumers.
“Inflation rates in Europe and North America are reaching 40 year highs as a result of supply chain disruptions, increased price of freight and shipping rates and adverse weather conditions among others.”
The Minister pointed out however that Government’s response has been proactive bearing in mind the overall need to ensure fiscal stability by way of an accumulated disbursement of
US$980 Million (which is TT$6.5 Billion) under the two facilities namely, the FOREX Facility for Manufacturers (US$450 Million) and the Forex Allocation System (FAS) for importation of raw materials, basic food items and essential goods (US$530 Million).
“The Government has also extended the loan guarantee facility for SMEs through the local banking system and is keeping its commitment to accelerate the payment of VAT Refunds. Together these measures have ensured that local manufacturers and importers involved in retail and distribution have the ability to source goods to keep their businesses afloat.”
In terms of enhancing food security, the Minister said arising out of the recent meeting with Guyana, the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) has been mandated to conclude, by the end of July 2022, various initiatives and programmes, aimed at the removal of Non-Tariff Barriers to Intra-Regional Trade.
“Whilst this directive relates to Agriculture, we recognize the need to expand this initiative in other areas of production.”
She said the CARICOM Private Sector Organization (CPSO) has also been mandated to accelerate the implementation of its various agricultural investment projects.
She said in addition, to advance the region’s food security, and following Guyana’s initial Expo, T&T’s Government will be hosting the“Trinidad and Tobago Agri-Investment Forum and Expo 2022” which will be held on August 19 – 21, 2022.
“This initiative is the ideal platform to stimulate conversations among key stakeholders, potential foreign and local investors, farmers, and distributors to amplify investments and achieve the vision set by the CARICOM Heads of Government to reduce the regional food import bill by twenty-five percent (25%) by 2025.”