Given that the year 2020 has been designated as the date by which Trinidad and Tobago must attain developed country status, industrial development within the non-petroleum sector has emerged as a critical factor in achieving this goal. In support of this process, in May 2003, the Government established the Standing Committee on Business Development (SCBD), chaired by Prime Minister, the Hon Patrick Manning. The main focus of the SCBD, which serves as an advisory committee to Cabinet, has been to address the development of key industries in the non-petroleum sector. The SCBD comprises key persons responsible for business growth and development in the private sector, as well as Government officials. The Ministry of Trade and Industry provides technical and administrative support to the Committee.
Identification of Priority Industries
The Committee has targetted the following seven industries for growth and development:
ii. Fish and Fish Processing
iii. Merchant Marine
iv. Music and Entertainment
vi.Printing and Packaging
vii.Food and Beverage
The yachting industry in Trinidad and Tobago has shown tremendous potential for growth and revenue generation during the last decade, with yacht arrivals increasing from 637 in 1990 to 3,249 in the year 2000, representing an increase of over 400 percent. The industry can generate revenues of TT$123 million to TT$154 million annually. This country has a competitive edge over neighbouring islands as we are located outside of the hurricane belt and have now emerged as the yacht repair centre of the Caribbean.
Fish and Fish Processing
The fishing industry remains a vital sector to the Trinidad and Tobago economy. The industry earns on average TT$62 million in export revenue annually. It continues to supplement the growing demand for seafood locally, and provides an important employment opportunity for many of our citizens, particularly in rural communities. We envision a competitive, sustainable and profitable fishing industry in the future, an industry which is inclusive, equitable and supportive of the local fishing communities. While the industry has not yet realised its full potential, its strategic, economic and social significance require that it be given priority.
Due to our strategic geographic location between North and Latin America and our robust economic performance both in the energy and non-energy sectors, Trinidad and Tobago has the potential to be a major player in the global shipping trade. In the past, our ports have won regional awards for service excellence, and more recently Government has initiated plans to develop a maritime faculty at the campus of the new University of Trinidad and Tobago. As we continue to make investments in the development of our ports and human resource, we will focus on joint venture partnerships and strategic alliances to develop additional areas of the maritime cluster, such as ship building and repair, bunkering services, marine environmental services, ancillary legal, financial and IT services.
Music and Entertainment
The entertainment industry is mainly service oriented and encompasses music (including pan), drama, dance, the arts and festivals such as Carnival; each component supporting the other. Traditionally, Trinidad and Tobago is a nation rich with talent in these creative industries, which has served as an effective means of poverty alleviation and employment generation. The music industry alone has over 7,000 employees and generates some US$50 million in direct and indirect earnings. The entertainment industry has also displayed significant export potential as seen by the proliferation of Trinidad-style Carnivals over the world, and the influx of pan in countries such as Japan. This country has yet to maximise on the benefits to be derived by further developing the entertainment industry.
The film industry (including television, film and video) has been in existence in Trinidad and Tobago since the 1950’s. This industry plays a major role in the country’s economic and social development, not only due to its revenue generating potential but also due to the influence television and film have on molding the cultural values and social norms of a nation. Films and documentaries shot on location can serve as a powerful strategy for increasing awareness of the country as a destination for tourism and investment. The film industry can complement and assist the further development of the entertainment industry, as film is a component of the entertainment sector.
Printing and Packaging
The printing and packaging industry in Trinidad is currently at a mature stage of development. It is a highly competitive, technical and capital-intensive industry with over 200 firms operating in the printing sector and over 25 in the packaging sector. Printing is rapidly revolutionising through digitisation and through the dominance of computers at every stage of the print production process. The plastics industry is focused primarily on import substitution, supplying the market with low price and low margin goods. The printing and packaging industry seeks to overcome the threats of globalisation and trade liberalisation in order to capture niche markets and reap economies of scale in each sector.
The Food and Beverage Industry
This industry is perhaps one of the most competitive and successful sectors in the non-petroleum arena. Businesses operating in this sub-sector vary from meat processors to candy manufacturers to brewers of alcoholic drinks. Our vision is to take this sector to the next stage of industrial development, to enable leaders and potential leaders in the industry to be international champions, while at the same time assist the smaller, developing stakeholders to meet international standards for competitiveness and efficiency. Finally, for those companies that choose to move out of the manufacturing sector, our hope is to guide them to alternative business opportunities in new and emerging sectors.