These were the views expressed by TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce president, Robert Trestrail, Chinese Ambassador to TT Huang Xingyuan, and Chinese Chamber of Commerce of TT president, Michael Zhang, at a breakfast meeting in Westmoorings yesterday.
Trestrail said, “While I do not wish to engage in any debate about whether, or not, Trinidad and Tobago is in fact in a recession, we have emerged from three consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, and oil and gas revenue – our main source of foreign exchange earnings– is expected to be at its lowest in the final quarter of 2015.” He added, “ With overall decreased export revenues, and an increasing import bill which currently stands at $5 billion dollars, we must focus our efforts on encouraging economic diversification.” Observing that the prevailing economic realities have been made even more dismal by plummeting oil and gas prices, Trestrail stated, “There is a critical need to develop diversified and dynamic economic and trade partnerships.
The Chamber of Chinese Business in TT represents such an opportunity.” Stating that China is considered to be the most resilient and productive economy of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and is often mentioned on par with the United States, Trestrail said, “The access to economic and business opportunities therefore augurs well, not only for TT, but for the wider Caribbean and Latin America.” Trestrail said the Chamber will leverage its solid position to analyse and explore the emerging opportunities that exist for its members to do business in China. “In partnership with our counterparts from China, the goal is to create an enabling environment for doing business, while facilitating investment opportunities in TT,” he added.
He identified financial services; food sustainability; tourism; ICT; the creative industries (music, fashion and film); sport and the maritime industries as some of the areas in which TT-China economic collaboration could be deepened.
Recalling the election of the People’s National Movement (PNM) to government on September 7, Xingyuan said this “brought new vitality and new ideas for this country’s economy.” Indicating that new administration will successively announce a series of development measures to thoroughly implement the development concept of economic diversification,” Xingyuan was confident that China and TT will move into a new stage in the next five years that, “provides a historical chance for the great development of two countries’ enterprises.” “I hope the member enterprises can actively participate in the economic construction of China and Trinidad and Tobago, and realize mutual benefit and win-win outcome through mutual support and exchange of needed goods,” the Ambassador said. Xingyuan identified infrastructure and financial services as just two areas in which China was interested in collaborating with TT in.
In the case of infrastructure cooperation, Xingyuan stated, “The Chinese government values the cooperation with TT Tobago and other Caribbean countries in the field of infrastructure, and was willing to provide financial support. This is a rare opportunity.” Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has said he accepted an invitation from the Chinese government to visit China.
Zhang noted, “The Caribbean is important to China. It is a good business destination with strengths that compete favourably when compared to other areas of the world.” To this end, Zhang said the Chinese Chamber of Commerce will assist TT companies, “with the necessary knowledge of the country, and its people, help with expediting regulatory and legal requirements, language support, market research and connections to commercial and import/export services to help them to quickly adapt to the local market.”