Address by Hon. Stephen Cadiz- Minister of Trade and Industry at 5th Annual General Meeting of TTCSI
ADDRESS BY THE HON.STEPHEN CADIZ MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY AT THE THE TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO COALITION OF SERVICES INDUSTRIES 5TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2:00PM, FRIDAY 25TH MAY, 2012 QUEEN’S PARK CRICKET CLUB CENTURY BALLROOM TRAGARETE ROAD, PORT OF SPAIN • Mr. Rabindra Jaggernauth, President, Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Service Industries (TTCSI) • TTCSI Board Members • Mr. Nirad Tewarie, CEO, • Staff of the TTCSI • Representatives of Government and the Business Community • Representatives of the Media • Ladies and Gentlemen. Good Afternoon Everyone. I welcome the opportunity to address you at this 5th Annual General Meeting of the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries (TTCSI). This evening I intend to speak on the importance of our local Services Sector and the initiatives being undertaken by the Government to facilitate its development. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago views economic diversification as a critical element for achieving sustainable development and has identified the Services Sector as a key driver in the thrust to diversify the economy away from the energy sector. Since its establishment we have seen the TTCSI make a significant contribution to the pursuit of Government’s goal of economic diversification. One of their most notably achievements to date, is the launch of the ICT Innovations for the Development of the Masquerade Industry in Trinidad and Tobago project. As a result of this project, small and medium sized businesses in the Masquerade sector will now be equipped with the skills and capacity as well as have access to ICT solutions for improving and expanding their business models, market reach and global competitiveness. Over the years, the importance of the global services sector has grown. Recent studies have also revealed that the Services Sector is a facilitator of domestic growth; it anchors and supports the entire goods production process by providing value added inputs for competitive industrial development. It also contributes to job creation and is vital to poverty alleviation. This shows, Ladies and Gentlemen, that this sector contributes to every aspect of our lives as citizens and consumers and is a fundamental part of our economy. Moreso, the Services Sector has proven to play a pivotal role in assisting developing countries to diversify their economies away from the production and export of primary commodities. According to the World Bank, services account for approximately 45% of GDP in Least Developed Countries (LDCs), approximately 55% of GDP in developing countries and up to 75% of GDP in the developed economies. Here in Trinidad and Tobago the Services Sector accounts for more than 59 percent of GDP and employs some 60 percent of the workforce. Given the increasing significance of the Sector, there is global recognition of the role that services can play in driving economic growth and development. With recent advances in technology to further facilitate the provision of services across borders, it is imperative that we take advantage of the potential opportunities that exist. We must also be cognizant of the fact that service providers from developing countries are faced with several challenges and obstacles that serve to hinder their ability to enhance exports. These obstacles include lack of financing for business development or export, difficulty in establishing credibility in international markets, lack of access to reliable and inexpensive infrastructure, and a lack of access to a range of formal and informal networks and the institutional facilities necessary for trade. However, despite these numerous challenges facing the Sector, the TTCSI has continued to champion the way for the further development of the Sector. On behalf of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, I must express my appreciation to the TTCSI for its role in promoting the growth and development of this Sector. The Services Industries serve as a master key to unlock untapped areas and catapult our economies onto a new growth path by increasing export earnings, increasing employment and thus contributing to growth and development. To this end, developing countries have sought to utilize their existing expertise and take advantage of their resources by developing sectors of tremendous potential such as the creative industries, culture, sport and recreational services and health and wellness. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago affirms that the Services Sector plays a significant role in diversifying the economy, creating jobs and enhancing economic development. As testament to this, the Government through it Medium-Term Policy Framework (2011-2014) have sought to address the expansion this Sector, in terms of the development of the knowledge and creative sectors especially in niche segments with the potential for building competitiveness, greater adaptation and use of technology, and innovation that is driven by indigenous knowledge and expanded research and development activities. In addition to this, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago through the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) is currently embarking on the development of a National Services Industries Strategy which would seek to provide a roadmap for the development of the various services sub-sectors in a co-ordinated manner. Further to this, I am pleased to announce that the development of this Strategy is being supported by the Enabling Competitive Business Programme which is partially funded by the EU. Rest assured that the MTI through the TTCSI and other Business Support Organisations will ensure the input of our local service providers in the development of this Strategy. As evidence of our further commitment to the development of this Sector, at the recently concluded CIF, the Services Sector was a major area of focus and areas such as ICT, Creative Industries, and Merchant Marine, were featured as critical discussion items on the agenda. The MTI has also partnered with the TTCSI on a number of its prominent initiatives, particularly the Annual Services Week which seeks to inform individuals and organisations about the strengths and opportunities within this Sector. As we move forward to enhance the growth of the Services Sector, it is critical that we continue to support our service providers as they pursue wider markets. The CARICOM Single Market and Economy, our bilateral agreements with Latin nations as well as the CARIFORUM/EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) provide increased market access for service providers. This is where I must emphasize that while MTI can negotiate and secure market access, it is up to service providers and manufacturers to undertake the task of moving into these markets. Government is a facilitator; it is the responsibility of business to undertake investment. It is against this backdrop that I must commend the TTCSI for being actively engaged in the ongoing CARICOM/Canada Trade and Development Agreement negotiations and being actively involved in engaging and bringing together the various service sector organisations and getting them involved in the economic decision making process so that our final position at the negotiating table is solidly informed. The opportunities that these negotiations present are far reaching for our service providers. Notably, Canada provides significant market opportunities for service providers in sectors such as Professional Services, Audio-visual, Entertainment, Construction, Education and Energy. As you can see Ladies and Gentlemen, there is much taking place in the Services Sector and I am pleased to recognize the strong role being played by the TTCSI in moving the sector forward. I wish to urge the various service sector organizations to take a more active role in the development of the Sector and enhance their position through membership with the TTCSI as it provides an ideal medium for dialogue and partnership between the public and private sectors. In closing, I wish to commend the TTCSI for its dedication to the Sector and we will continue to provide the support necessary for sustainable growth of the Services Industries as we move ahead with the diversification of the economy. I thank you.