By Deidre Brathwaite
BARBADOS / TRINIDAD – Speaking at the first virtual investment forum taking place this week in Trinidad and Tobago, Deodat Maharaj, executive director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency ( Caribbean Export), described the event as a “pioneering approach to investment promotion”.
Referencing the COP26 negotiations, Maharaj emphasised the need for the transition to a green economy, using Port of Spain as a “beachhead” for the Caribbean and further afield to increase Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
The two-day forum saw more than 900 registrants, representing businesses, investors and site selection experts from 67 countries explore investment opportunities in the twin Republic, critical to economic recovery following the pandemic.
The two-day event, hosted by InvesTT, the country´s investment promotion agency, and the ministry of trade and industry, was supported by Caribbean Export. It showcased the country’s competitive advantages in key sectors, including creative industries, business services, manufacturing, renewable energy logistics and agrotechnology. Panellists representing existing investors in Trinidad and Tobago from different industries provided key insights alongside investment facilitation experts and officials.
In the opening remarks, Senator Paula Gopee-Scoon, Trinidad and Tobago’s minister of trade and industry, pointed to a new cycle of investment emerging in the post-pandemic period, precipitated by positive disruptive forces like digital transformation and renewable energy. “Reliable supply chains and access to export markets cannot be taken for granted and must be actively created and sustained. By refocusing on emerging sectors, we are now ready to compete on a global scale,” said the minster.
Franka Costelloe, chairperson of InvesTT, spoke about significant improvements in the domestic business environment with the use of new technologies to speed up processes such as licensing, business registration and payment of taxes.
“Following the pandemic, 2021 has been our biggest success story to date, achieving TTD 265 million in investment against a target of TTD 135 million,” said Costelloe, referring to the success in attracting FDI by invesTT. “Trinidad and Tobago is attractive and competitive for the savvy investor,” she added, noting the country’s geographic advantage, linkages to global markets and access to a population of over 690 million in the Latin American and Caribbean region.
From an investor perspective, Ashley Parasram, founder of Trinidad and Tobago Fine Cocoa, a company that seeks to reinvigorate the country’s traditional cocoa production market, emphasised the advantages of building in-country partnerships as a “springboard” for regional and international markets.