Vashti Guyadeen Chief Executive Officer TTCSI and Mark Edghill, President TTCSI
“Let today be recorded as the day that heralded a new dawn for the reignition of the services sector in Trinidad and Tobago.”
The words of the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries, Mark Edghill, during today’s Market Connections event in the Gateway to Trade (G2T) Export Accelerator Programme, held at the Hilton Trinidad.
The TTCSI president asserts the development of the services sector must be prioritised going forward, and to this end, his organisation is leading the way in crafting a new strategic direction for services in the region.
“The TTCSI decided that we needed to take a more strategic approach to the expansion of the services sector by incorporating all our export initiatives under a single, forward-looking, internationalization strategy—an export call to action, for the services sector, which we refer to as Go Global TT Services,” Mark Edghill stated.
According to Mr Edghill, the TTCSI vision is for the development of an “ecosystem to support services in Trinidad and Tobago”. The G2T Market Connections event on Monday was pivotal, in that it sought to bring together all key stakeholders, “to commence the education process about services”.
The Gateway to Trade (G2T) Export Accelerator Programme was created by Global Links Network, Inc., and has been developed through the application of over 25 years’ experience in working on trade in services initiatives in over 50 countries around the world. It is the only comprehensive export acceleration programme targeted at services sector small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
It was launched in Trinidad and Tobago in September 2021, in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and ExporTT. It is a nine-month market readiness accelerator programme. During the first phase, some 80 firms in the Business and Professional, Energy, ICT and Tourism service sub-sectors were targeted—firms with the potential to export their services, as well as those already exporting their services and desirous of further growing their capacity. Key elements of the programme include market connections, tailored business coaching/mentoring, as well as enterprise and product upgrading assistance.
Under the G2T Programme, 46 services export plans were created which will guide the participant companies of Cohort 1 as they embark upon Phase 3 of the Gateway to Trade Programme and eventually, out into the global market.
Over the next few months, Cohort 1 G2T participants will benefit from further support and mentoring from several investment and export promotion entities, including ExporTT and EximBank. Already, the TTCSI and ExporTT are working on identifying opportunities in Guyana, Suriname and the US Markets for Cohort 1 G2T companies.
The Services Sector is the largest contributor to the economy. In 2020, it accounted for approximately 60% of GDP and more than 60% of employment. However, it only accounts for 10% of the country’s exports, hence the aggressive thrust by the TTCSI harness the sector’s potential to deliver more.
Both the TTCSI and the Ministry of Trade and Industry agree that improving the performance of services exports is, therefore, vital to the country’s overall diversification efforts.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry also has reaffirmed its support for export entrepreneurs in the Services Sector and pointed to future plans being developed at the national level that will serve to promote services exports.
Delivering remarks on behalf of Senator Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Trade and Industry, Permanent Secretary Frances Seignoret highlighted opportunities being created at both the national and regional levels.
The Ministry is planning several Trade Missions to Cuba, Curaçao, Colombia, China, Guyana, the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, and Sweden, which will commence in June 2022 and continue into the latter half of fiscal 2023. Cohort 1 G2T firms will have an opportunity to join these trade missions and benefit from such exposure.
PS Seignoret noted that at the level of CARICOM, a Regional Services Strategy is being developed with the aim of helping Member States strengthen the capacity and competitiveness of their Services subsectors and facilitate more competitive trade with the rest of the world.
“Implementation is expected to take place from 2022–2026 and is anticipated to provide service providers with more targeted and strategic support programmes and initiatives. The Ministry of Trade and Industry will soon be engaging with the relevant line Ministries and key stakeholders to develop a National Roadmap to facilitate implementation in the coming months,” she reported.
On May 16th, after 8 months of virtual training, participants of Cohort 1 of TTCSI’s “Gateway to Trade Export Accelerator” met in person to learn, network and share information. Here’s a group photo of Preparation for Market Connections.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry also intends to establish a new trade and investment promotion agency for Trinidad and Tobago.
“This new entity will serve as a mechanism for increasing the promotion of the export of goods and services from Trinidad and Tobago to regional and international territories, as well as attracting foreign investments to Trinidad and Tobago,” PS Seignoret explained.
She also revealed that apart from this new agency, the Ministry also will be posting Commercial Offices and Officers in select markets, in order to facilitate the operational success of T&T exporters in these markets. The intention is to replicate the success of the Cuba Trade Facilitation Office, which was able to assist many local companies successfully penetrate the Cuban market.