TT sees positive growth in exports; 69 % increase

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TT sees positive growth in exports; 69 % increase

Trinidad and Tobago had one of the region’s best performing markets last year, after it experienced an increase of 69 per cent in exports.

According to the 2022 Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Report, the increase was bolstered by an increase of non-energy exports by 29 per cent.

The report noted that exports in the region increased at a rate of 38 per cent.

A release from the Ministry of Trade said “positive growth in exports is reflective of the work of the Government and private sector in advancing both energy and non-energy exports.”

The ministry said it was significant to note that, according to the Central Statistical Office’s (CSO) data, total exports were estimated at $83.2 billion, which far surpasses the pre-pandemic export growth in 2019 of $48.6 billion.

Last year, energy exports were valued at $66.4 billion, while non-energy exports were valued at TT$16.8 billion.

The report identified top export markets as the US, Belgium, Morocco, Guyana, Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica and Suriname.

TT, the Ministry of Trade said, “demonstrated a strong export performance in the non-energy manufacturing sector showing significant increases from 2021 to 2022.”

The increases were identified in iron and steel (six per cent); food and beverage (21 per cent); wood and wood related (29 per cent); paper and paper related products (48 per cent); basic chemicals and fertilizers (37 per cent); and plastic and rubber products (55 per cent).

Exports in the food and beverage sector were valued at $3.1 billion in 2022. The top exported commodities were water, pre-cooked and prepared food from cereals, aromatic bitters, other non-alcoholic beverages, and chocolate and cocoa preparations.

The Ministry said: “(TT) diversified the range of commodities exported in 2022, with paper and paper related products and plastic and rubber products showing significant increases.

Toilet paper tissue, paper, urea resins, tubes, pipes, hoses and bottles were among the top exports.

The ministry noted that, in 2022, there was a resurgence of trade in wood and wood related products with exports valued at $36 million. Doors, frames and furniture were the top exported items.

“To move the export sector forward,” the Ministry said, “(it) is continuing the implementation of initiatives aimed at achieving a further increase in non-energy exports in 2023.

“The Ministry of Trade and Industry has made it a priority to expand market access and deepen trade with targeted countries and markets of interest.

“This is being done through ongoing negotiations with Chile and Curaçao respectively for Partial Scope Trade Agreements.

“Further, negotiations are ongoing for the expansion of the Caricom-Colombia Trade Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement.”

The Ministry of Trade said it has planned 12 face-to-face mission for fiscal 2023, with two trade missions having already been completed in Jamaica and Curacao in November.

The purpose, it said, is to “increase market presence, boost exports, diversify export markets and promote inward investment.

“The MTI will continue to support private sector enterprises through the provision of a suite of incentives targeting the growth of the non-energy sector.”

Among the incentives are the Export Booster Initiative; the Grant Fund Facility, which is designed to assist the growth of SMEs; the Steelpan Manufacturing Grant Fund Facility (SGFF) which allows steelpan manufacturers to access up to a maximum of $250,000 per tranche, not exceeding $1 million per entity, to fund the acquisition of new machinery, equipment, software, tools, raw materials and training; the establishment of a Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, which the ministry said is designed to create “(a) more streamlined, cost effective and targeted approach to trade and investment promotion in TT.

Additionally, the MTI highlighted the establishment of commercial offices in the US, UK and Panama and the appointment of commercial attachés in China, Guyana, Jamaica and South Africa, “which will provide the in-country support such as market intelligence and navigating through the regulatory frameworks which is much need by exporters.”

A Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Authority is also operational, which the ministry said “will also ultimately have a positive impact on exports.

The MTI, in collaboration with other key stakeholders including the MIC Institute of Technology, the TT Manufacturers’ Association and the National Training Agency of TT, has developed and launched an apprenticeship programmes for the non-energy manufacturing sector and wood and wood products, it said.

“The MTI will continue to work with the private sector in 2023 to expand and diversify the export profile of TT, which will ultimately generate increase foreign exchange and new job opportunities, positively impacting all citizens.”