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Economic commission projects .3% growth for TT

VERNE BURNETT Friday, August 4 2017

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) is working with Trinidad and Tobago to develop a new trade policy which will focus on industrialisation and high-value manufacturing. This, according to Sheldon McLean, co-ordinator in the economic development unit at ECLAC’s subregional headquarters for the Caribbean, I Chancery Lane, Port of Spain.

The policy is intended to assist with the diversification of the economy.

McLean made the disclosure in response to comments on ECLAC’s Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean delivered to diplomats and representatives of business organisations invited to a presentation yesterday.The report was delivered by ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Barcena, speaking from ECLAC headquarters in Santiago, Chile.

Speaking with journalists following the presentation of the Economic Survey of the Caribbean, Dillon Alleyne, deputy director, ECLAC subregional headquarters for the Caribbean, projected growth of 0.3 per cent in this country’s gross domestic product for this year compared to a decline of 2.3 per cent in 2016.

Asked to explain, he said there had been an “inching up” of hydrocarbon prices which were expected to remain steady.

These were not “stellar” hikes but represented some increase and, in addition, there was exploration under way which meant investment in those areas, he added.

Alleyne said ECLAC did not anticipate any increase in Government investment because the deficits were already high but the expected growth would still come from the energy sector because of the new oil fields which were expected to come on stream very soon.

Acknowledging that 0.3 per cent was still a low growth rate, Alleyne said the domestic and international environment were not very good for TT.

He added that there was some “compression” on consumption because a lot of people were losing their jobs and this would affect expenditure.

He said there was no expectation that oil prices would rise significantly in the short term because there were considerable inventories and shale oil would continue to constrain any increase in energy prices.

Alleyne said that in small economies like TT and the Caribbean there was need for a better relationship between the public and private sectors though, in this country in particular, there was heavy involvement by the Government in the labour market and this might be the cause of some distortion.

“So there needs to be a better rationalisation of certain kinds of programmes which may provide incentive to people to work outside of the public sector,” he said.

Asked about a point made by Barcena in her presentation that there was “silent deregulation” taking place in the US which the media was not paying any attention to because of its fascination with the Trump family, Alleyne agreed, saying if it continued it would have a “multiplicity of impacts” not only on the Caribbean but wider afield.

He said it might encourage a lot more risk-taking in terms of financial engagement and financial transactions which he recalled were some of the big problems in the last global financial crisis. He said environmental regulation had declined and a lot of financial “edicts” had been implemented, adding that a lot of these were silent but they were quite significant.



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