Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Trade and Industry, Carl Francis, congratulated TTCSI on the initiative and pledged the Ministry’s support saying that the expansion of the services sector is a key pillar of the diversification of T&T’s economy.
Ambassador Carlos Pineda Cruz of El Salvador and Ambassador Ricardo Thompson-Thompson of Costa Rica as well as Cesar Gomez, Consul General of Panama outlined the many opportunities available to local companies in the construction sector in their respective countries and urged companies in T&T to go to Central America to seek out those opportunities.
The TTCSI organized the event as part of its planning of a Trade Mission to Central America in September. The response to the event was overwhelming as more than 75 people attended, leaving standing room only.
In addressing the meeting, TTCSI President Lawrence Placide told the gathered businessmen, “In this new century, new era of trade and relationships, we have to break the patterns which keep us – the countries of the South – tied to the metro poles. Why should the majority of the cargo leaving the Panama Canal for the Caribbean have to be routed through Miami? Increased private sector activity between our regions will provide the economic basis and indeed, imperative to break these arrangements, which are not to our benefit.
“By increasing trade, by enhancing the relationship between CARICOM and Central America, we will also reap some unexpected rewards. Tourism – business and leisure – will increase as trade increases. So too will the market for goods – both ways – once our products are competitive in price and quality. The education service sector and the opportunities for exchanges can also be developed as we deepen our relationship. These are but a few of the many examples of potential for increased trade. “For now though, we speak about construction. The opportunities in Central America are there. Don’t be intimidated. Go forth and explore.”
In noting that the ongoing and forecast projects in Central America include projects similar to those already completed in T&T by local contractors and that the opportunities are for both large and small contractors, General Manager of the T&T Contractors Association, Neil Marquez urged local contractors to participate in the trade mission since he believes, based on the presentations and other market research, that the potential for return on investment is tremendous.