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2011 Editorial Board

Business Trinidad & Tobago 2011 Editorial Board Richard Lewis

Chairman, Prestige Business Publications Ltd

Keith Miller

Chief Executive Officer, Caribbean Business Publications Ltd

Marie Gurley

Director, Prestige Business Publications Ltd

Patricia Lewis

Director, Prestige Business Publications Ltd

Tanya Carr

Corporate Communications Specialist, Ministry of Trade and Industry

Khaleel Ali

Manager – Enterprise Sales, Illuminat (Trinidad & Tobago) Ltd, Communications Business Unit

Natasha Brown

Communications Officer, Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA)

Kay Baldeosingh-Arjune

Business Writer, Editor – Business Trinidad & Tobago

Credits Joint Publishers

Richard Lewis, Keith Miller


Kay Baldeosingh-Arjune


809 Design Associates Inc.

Layout & Artwork

Patricia Lewis

Desktop Designs & Letters Ltd.


Patricia Lewis, Jessica Medina


Patricia Lewis, Marie Gurley,

Cover Design

Betti Gillezeau, Zachary Tardieu Kenneth Scott


Luke Benai, Edison Boodoosingh, Stephen Broadbridge, Dawn Glaisher, Patricia Lewis, Gregory Scott

Business Trinidad & Tobago is published and produced by: Prestige Business Publications Ltd 9 Humphrey Street, The Film Centre, St James, Trinidad and Tobago Tel: (868) 622-0738/9, Fax: (868) 622-0426 Email: Website:

Copyright© 2011 Prestige Business Publications Ltd All information in this publication has been carefully collected and prepared, but it is still subject to change and correction. Use these contents for general guidance only and seek extra assistance from a professional adviser with regard to any specific matters. Copyright reserved. None of the contents in this publication can be reproduced or copied in any form without permission in writing from the publisher.

ii • Business Trinidad & Tobago

Publisher’s Note

From the Publisher Trinidad & Tobago is Open for Business… Come on in! Anybody who believes in the old adage that “necessity is the mother of invention” would instantly recognise that the recent global financial crisis has provided a welcome injection of impetus into the modern economic development of Trinidad & Tobago. Having spent two decades basking in a comfort zone fuelled by substantial revenue derived predominantly from the energy sector, and perhaps somewhat lulled by the fiscal security of some 16 successive years of growth, Trinidad & Tobago suddenly found itself staring down the barrel of an economic downturn. This unavoidable reality check brought sharply back into focus a number of critical national development issues that had previously been widely addressed but never satisfactorily resolved. Not least amongst this list of imperative ‘things to do’ was the need to reduce the country’s dependence on the energy sector by attracting more local and international investment into a greater number of non-energy sectors in order to diversify the revenue base of the economy. The Government of Trinidad &Tobago fully understands the powerful positives that can be gained for the country by creating an environment that will encourage investors to inject their capital into the economy and, consequently, has adopted a very pro-business stance. During parts of her address at the launch of the Caribbean Investment Forum in London on March 16th 2011, our Prime Minister, the Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, made the following observations: “ Trinidad & Tobago is at an exciting time in its development coming so soon after the recent global financial crisis our economy is growing once again. We have a unique opportunity to transform our country’s economy and foster long-term sustainable growth by driving sectors besides energy. Development is not an esoteric concept, it is about investment in people, training, new equipment, embracing technology, all designed to move the country and the economy forward. We are transforming Trinidad and Tobago into a regional hub for business and trade by enhancing the business environment, promoting investment and, of course, seeking market access and key partnerships with our regional and extra-regional colleagues.” “Trinidad and Tobago enjoys one of the highest growth rates and levels of per capita income in the region. We have a dynamic and powerful manufacturing sector and, along with our strategic geographic location, this country is establishing itself as a manufacturing base, and the commercial, transshipment and

iv • Business Trinidad & Tobago

Richard Lewis Chairman Prestige Business Publications Ltd

Keith Miller Chief Executive Officer Caribbean Business Publications

financial hub of the Caribbean and, eventually, the Americas.” “Government sees its role as that of facilitator for business activity and is determined to improve the various elements which go toward enhancing the business environment. This will always involve collaboration with public and private stakeholders for, while Government sets policy, the private sector is at the forefront of business activity and their input makes the policies relevant.” Trinidad & Tobago possesses many of the attributes that will be required by any nation wishing to become and remain a successful 21st century centre of global business activity. In addition, the Private Sector and the Government are wholly determined to make this country as attractive and welcoming a location as possible, both for its own citizens as well as international investors. This primary goal is undoubtedly achievable since we have the knowledge, we have the resources, we have the infrastructure, we have the right people, we have the will and, now, we have the opportunity. While this country has long been ‘Open for Business’ to investors from all around the world, the post-recession Trinidad & Tobago could now justifiably nail up a new sign that declares: ‘Open for Business – Under New Management – with New Products.’ Using this concept as the central theme for this year’s edition of Business Trinidad & Tobago, we have carefully selected a range of high quality articles that will provide an overview of what the Government is doing to kickstart greater economic growth, while also highlighting some of the new, more diverse investment opportunities. Trinidad & Tobago is ready to welcome all legitimate investors.

Richard Lewis

Keith Miller


Contents iv.

From the Publisher



2011-12 Calendar of Events

Waste Disposal: The Challenge & The Opportunity


Message from the Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago

Marc Sandy - Research Economist, Trinidad & Tobago Manufacturers’ Association


T&T’s Investment Priorities Stephen Cadiz - Minister of Trade & Industry

Trinidad & Tobago The Wholesale Banker of the English-Speaking Caribbean

Angus P. Young BA, Acc Dip. - Managing Director, Young & Associates Limited


Trinidad & Tobago - Business Leader of the Caribbean


Dr Morecia-Kim Ortega - Senior Consultant, PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services Ltd

ICT in T&T: Meeting the Needs of International Investors


New Opportunities in Downstream Energy Daren Ragoonanan (R.Eng.) - Business Analyst - Office of the President, National Energy Corporation

Khaleel Ali - Manager, Enterprise Sales Illuminat (Trinidad & Tobago) Ltd., Communication Business Unit



Investment Opportunities in Agriculture

Desiree Seebaran


Discovering T&T’s Meeting and Conference Assets

Lisa Ghany - Managing Director, Xceptional Events Ltd


Unleashing T&T’s Fashion Potential

Kay Baldeosingh-Arjune - Editor BT&T


United Colors of Benetton



Labour & Legislation in T&T

Lara Quentrall-Thomas - CEO, Regency Recruitment Ltd


Getting Ready to Take On The World

Ministry of Trade and Industry


Here to Stay... Reinvesting in T&T

Darren Farfan


Embassy Perspective: Doing Business in T&T

Kay Baldeosingh-Arjune - Editor BT&T


Business Valuations - Getting It Right

Gina Matthew - Senior Manager, Transaction Advisory Services, Ernst & Young

Lorenza and Franca De Bona and Claudio Bordin

Distribution & Transshipment: Becoming the Miami of the Caribbean


Revitalising Tobago: Plans & Prospects

Dawn Glaisher - Broker/Director & Hon. Secretary of AREA


Economic Statistics


Trinidad and Tobago Stock Market… Insights and Analysis

Raphael John-Lall


T&T’s Untapped Potential to be Premier Ecotourism Destination

Courtenay Rooks - Naturalist and Adventurer


New Strategies for State Assets Provide Investment Opportunities


Business Trinidad and Tobago Fast Facts Guide

Lasana Liburd


Contact Information

vi • Business Trinidad & Tobago

Message from the Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago

Message from Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar Trinidad and Tobago is today at a critical juncture when our global, regional and domestic economy is in a state of key evolution, and my Government is firmly committed to the task of moving beyond the current local and regional markets in order to truly achieve our aim of strengthening and diversifying the economy and transforming Trinidad and Tobago into an international business hub. Through robust foreign policy and mutually beneficial trade arrangements, we have already begun to position Trinidad and Tobago to seek new marketing and development opportunities. Indeed, I strongly believe that we are once again on a growth path. My recent trips abroad have enabled me to strategically promote Trinidad and Tobago as a place to live, work, visit and conduct business effectively. In the coming months, we expect that significant opportunities will be generated through our participation in the World Economic Forum in Brazil (May 2011) and our hosting of the Trinidad and Tobago Trade and Investment Week (June 2011). The Investment Week will comprise the Caribbean Investment Forum, hosted by the Commonwealth Business Council, and the TTMA’s annual Trade and Investment Convention. The Caribbean Investment Forum is designed to enhance trade between the Americas and the Commonwealth and is a key initiative in Government’s long-term developmental strategy to move the Trinidad and Tobago economy away from its traditional dependence on energy. During this first year in office, my Government has expended tremendous effort in successfully engendering positive economic growth. Both our Central Bank and international rating agencies have forecasted that this country’s growth rate will be between two to three per cent in 2011. To achieve this, though, we must inspire our public and private sectors to greater levels of excellence, productivity and innovation. I firmly believe that the private sector is the engine of economic growth and prosperity, while the government provides

the effective facilitative mechanism to ensure its sustainability. In such an extremely competitive and evolving environment, export diversification, innovation and technology building strategies must be pursued. My Government strongly believes that the time is now to diversify away from our traditional export markets, from our comfort zone. We are, at present, preparing to complete a Partial Scope Trade Agreement with Panama as another step in tapping the Central American market. This reciprocal trade agreement will allow a limited number of products from Trinidad and Tobago to enter the Panamanian market. It will encourage our exporters to take advantage of this opportunity. I am heartened by the initiative demonstrated by our Energy Services companies who have decided to look beyond Trinidad and Tobago for opportunities. We aim, therefore, to position Trinidad and Tobago, with its wealth of experience and highly skilled workforce, as the Energy Services hub supplying services to the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa. We must now seek to form Joint Ventures overseas in oil and gas while we invite downstream activities to add value to our natural resources, mainly gas. In this regard, BG with whom I held discussions in the United Kingdom on their future plans for Trinidad and Tobago, has invited a delegation of oil and gas suppliers of both technology and services to visit Brazil and take advantage of their expansion in that country. In addition, the National Gas Company is engaged in negotiations for a major Joint Venture in Ghana. I firmly believe that the economy of Trinidad and Tobago is poised to take off, once we grasp the opportunities at hand and take advantage of the new markets within our reach. To achieve this, we must all take responsibility to lead this country to a path of sustained economic growth. We must all recognise that now, more than ever, the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago should work together to ensure economic growth and rebuild this society under the guiding principles of transparency and accountability, to achieve the true potential of developed world status for our nation.

Business Trinidad & Tobago • 

2011-12 Calendar

2011-12 Calendar of Events

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

6th – Trade Clinic - Doing Business in Colombia, Kapok Hotel, 8th – Take a Look Beyond the Stars @ The National Science Centre 8th & 9th - Shades of Jazz @ National Academy for the Performing Arts 17th – Palm Sunday 20th – The Beacon Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Festival 22nd – Good Friday 23rd - May 1st – Tobago Jazz Experience, 25th – Easter Monday 28th - May 1st – Bocas Lit Festival, NALIS, 30th - May 1st – Jazz on the Beach, Mt. Irvine, 639-8871

11th -13th – North American Food Marketplace (SIAL) Canada tradeshow, 10th -12th – Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference, Jamaica, 22nd - 26th – Taste of the Caribbean, Hyatt Regency Miami, 23rd – Tobago Culinary Festival, 26th - 31st – Fashion Week Trinidad & Tobago, 30th – Indian Arrival Day • Taste TNT,

3rd - 11th – We Beat Festival, St. James, 11th – Tobago Powerboat Regatta 11th & 12th – TTGFA The Kingfish Tournament, Trinidad 12th - 18th – AmCham T&T’s Trade Mission to Colombia, 13th & 14th – The Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) co-branded as ‘Trade and Investment Week 2011.’ 13th -19th – UK Multi-Sector Trade Mission 15th - 18th – Trade & Investment Convention (TIC), 19th – Dragon Boat Regatta, Pigeon Point, Tobago, 19th – Labour Day 23rd – Corpus Christi

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

2nd & 3rd – Salsa Fiesta TnT 2011 @ The Cascadia Hotel, 10th -12th – Summer Fancy Food Show, Washington, D.C. 15th - 1st August – Tobago Heritage Festival 2011, 27th - 31st – Sandbox Great Fete Weekend, 788-6409 or 6-ticket or

1st – Emancipation Day 19th - 21st – British Birdwatching Fair, 19, 20 & 21 – TTGFA Tarpon Thunder Tournament, Trinidad 27th – Carib Great Race, 28th – Santa Rosa Festival 31st – Eid-ul-Fitr 31st – Independence Day

21st - 4th October – Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, 24th – Republic Day 27th – World Tourism Day, 27th - 2nd October – Tobago International Cycling Classic, www. 28th & 29th – AmCham T&T’s Annual Health, Safety, Security and Environment (H.S.S.E) Conference and Exhibition,

 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

2011-12 Calendar

2011-12 Calendar of Events

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

3rd - 7th – The 18th Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association Cruise Conference and Trade Show, 15th – World Food Day 16th – Tobago Blue Food Festival, 639-4636, 26th – Divali 31st - 4th Nov – Havana International Trade Fair 2011 • The Trinidad and Tobago Steelpan & Jazz Festival 2011, www.

7th - 10th – World Travel Market (WTM), London, UK, 14th – Pan Parang and Pork @ QPCC, Liz Namsoo 345-3442 21st - 23rd – UK Education Trade Mission & Exhibition 27th – Seafood Festival and Parang TTGFA Funfish Tournament, Trinidad, • AmCham T&T’s 10th Annual Trade & Investment Conference, www.amchamtt. com

6th – Hosay 25th – Christmas Day 26th – Boxing Day 26th – Tobago Flying Colours Kite Flying Festival,

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

1st – New Year’s Day 22nd - 24th – Caribbean Marketplace, Bahamas, www.

6th - 7th – The Energy Chamber’s T&T Energy Conference 2012, Hyatt Regency Trinidad, 6th - 8th – energy.neTT Tradeshow, Hyatt Regency Trinidad, 19th – Dimanche Gras 20th – Carnival Monday 21st – Carnival Tuesday • UK Energy Trade Mission

7th - 11th – ITB Berlin – World’s Leading Travel Tradeshow, 30th – Spiritual/Shouter Baptist Liberation Day

 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

Public Holidays in bold italics

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: T&T’s Investment Priorities

Stephen Cadiz Minister of Trade & Industry

T&T’s Investment Priorities


inister of Trade & Industry Stephen Cadiz discusses T&T’s investment priorities and the Government’s strategy to attract foreign investment in this Q&A with Business T&T.

What does the Government plan to do to make direct inward investment more attractive? Trinidad and Tobago is favourably positioned to attract foreign direct investment and to build sustainable partnerships. We are transforming into a regional hub for business and trade by enhancing the business environment, promoting investment and, of course, seeking market access and key partnerships with our regional and extra-regional colleagues. Trinidad and Tobago has an open, free market economy and a long history of being committed to democratic principles, proper business practices and respect for property and profit rights. We support investment equally – whether local or foreign - and are in the process of revamping the Foreign Investment Act to make investment even more attractive. A key element of this involves reviewing and developing new incentives designed to attract investment in new areas as well as develop key sectors of the economy. What does Government plan to do to make investors more welcome in T&T? Government sees its role as that of facilitator for business activity and is determined to improve the various elements which go toward enhancing the business environment. This will always involve collaboration with public and private stakeholders, for

 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

while Government sets policy, the private sector is at the forefront of business activity and their input makes the policies relevant. We have acknowledged that there are many bureaucratic barriers and, as such, Government is moving towards the implementation of TTBizLink. TTBizLink is an IT platform known as a Single Electronic Window, which Government is developing in conjunction with CrimsonLogic of Singapore. TTbizLink provides a range of government business services online, which are accessed through one single e-document. The implementation of TTBizLink is being led by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) through a collaborative effort encompassing five Ministries, 13 government departments and several private sector agencies. All are working together to improve the landscape for business and investment in Trinidad and Tobago. The services provided by TTBizLink include: • Company Registration • Certificates of Origin • Import / Export Permits and Licenses • Work Permits • Fiscal Incentives Applications • Duty Free Concessions • Cargo Manifests • Goods Declaration TTBizlink will reduce the number of days for these transactions, which now range from 15 to 30, down to one week and eventually 2 to 3 days. We’re very excited at the prospects for enhancing business and reducing the cost of doing business. Local businesses have begun registering for the service which will go online later this year.

Gregory Scott

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: T&T’s Investment Priorities

Over the next three years, what will the priority investment areas be? What specific Investment Opportunities does the Government intend to create? The Government acknowledges that it is even more critical now for us to expand our revenue base through diversification, increasing local and foreign investment in a range of non-energy sectors. This economic diversification is part of the drive to ensure sustainable growth and broad-based development. We have identified priority areas for development based upon our natural competitive advantage in these areas. These areas include but are not limited to: (i) Merchant Marine – with the increase of trade agreements and increasing technological advancements, the global shipping industry has gained even greater importance. The forthcoming opening of the Panama Canal expansion has led to a flurry of activity in many a port in North America and elsewhere as ports seek to adapt to the new size of vessel that will traverse their shores. (ii)

Yachting – strategically positioned below the Hurricane belt, T&T is a premier destination for yacht building and repair services. Services offered and leisure cruising is highly developed in T&T as several hundred yachts visit the islands each year to repair, maintain and store their yachts during the hurricane season.


Creative Industries – this includes fashion, music and entertainment, film, animation and Carnival arts. Trinidad


and Tobago is known for creative design, expressed in carnival and other cultural festivals, which are revenue generators. The fashion industry is well-established and has linkages to other sectors especially music, entertainment and tourism. The entertainment industry has experienced tremendous growth since the 1960s due to the increasing development of soca music and a variety of other genres and the increasing level of sophistication of local artistes. The opportunities for the creative industries in Trinidad and Tobago are vast and Government is, therefore, committed towards increasing investment. Food and Beverage – Trinidad and Tobago is a major food and beverage manufacturing hub for the region. The industry has a long history and is very advanced in terms of technological and market development. This sector has significant investment opportunities, particularly for manufacturers who utilise unique, regional agro-products. Given the increased appreciation in the northern hemisphere for “exotic” foods, and the growth of the gourmet lifestyle in the more developed metropolitan communities, investors in the local food and beverage sector have a unique opportunity to brand and create specialty foods for the overseas gourmet markets. T&T also has a growing seafood industry, with emphasis on value-added packaged products and aqua-culture projects, which presents a great opportunity for businesses.

Business Trinidad & Tobago • 

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: T&T’s Investment Priorities

“We are in the process of revamping the Foreign Investment Act to make investment even more attractive. A key element of this involves reviewing and developing new incentives designed to attract investment in new areas as well as develop key sectors of the economy.” – Minister of Trade & Industry, Stephen Cadiz


Tourism – as a tourism destination Trinidad and Tobago has much to offer, from traditional sun, sea and sand holidays in Tobago, including excellent diving, to adventure and ecotourism on both islands, or business tourism and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions in Trinidad. Moreover, like many Caribbean islands, the country remains relatively inexpensive. Trinidad and Tobago has a strong advantage over many of its neighbours in that it has largely escaped the devastating hurricanes which have hit the region in recent years.

We have identified and are actively promoting the development of the following tourism niche markets: • Cruise • Festivals and Events • Diving • Ecotourism • Weddings and Honeymoons • Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) • Sports

(vi) Information Communication Technology – Trinidad and Tobago is well on its way to becoming a knowledge-based economy with the construction of Trinidad and Tobago’s first Science and Technology Park, Tamana InTech Park. The Tamana InTech Park will be home to major technology players and the place where groundbreaking and innovative ideas emerge. More importantly, Tamana - unlike any other Science and Technology Park - will have a unique blend of environmental appeal (30% green) along with industrialisation. This, therefore, creates immense opportunities in the area of ICT for potential investors.

10 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

(vii) Downstream Energy / Renewable Energy – the Government’s energy policy is to further diversify the energy sector by promoting the establishment of downstream industries that maximise the multiplier effects and value added through the creation of linkages between the Energy Sector and the rest of the economy. In this regard, we are looking for proposals that include an element whereby the outputs are utilised to produce a value added product that can be either exported for higher value or used in local processes. In addition, Government is looking at energy resource development in terms of long-term sustainable development and energy security and especially the issue of Climate Change. These types of developments hold great potential for promoting increased investment, enhancing research and development, providing opportunities for the creation of high-value jobs while generating increased foreign exchange and revenues. Trinidad and Tobago is ideally positioned to meet the challenge to effectively develop its renewable energy resources based on our existing energy platform and demonstrated success in attracting major investors and financiers. Trinidad and Tobago is definitely the Place for Business in the Caribbean. The Government is actively working to favourably equip the country with the necessary infrastructure to compete in the global market. Development is not an esoteric concept, it is about investment in people, training, new equipment, embracing technology, all designed to move the country and the economy forward. Development also means strong business enterprises that are resilient, competitive and add value to shareholders’ wealth.

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Business Leader of the Caribbean

Dr Morecia-Kim Ortega Senior Consultant, PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services Ltd

Trinidad & Tobago

Business Leader of the Caribbean

12 • Business Trinidad & Tobago


n the wake of the global economic crisis and devastating natural disasters, countries worldwide are struggling to maintain their footing in an increasingly competitive and uncertain global business environment. In this context, what does it mean to claim leadership in Caribbean business? What is more, is Trinidad and Tobago well-positioned to accept this 1st place title? Trinidad and Tobago’s GDP per capita is among the highest in the region. The country already has a globally recognised energy sector, and is currently the world leader in ammonia, urea and methanol exports. Trinidad and Tobago is also a leader in the Caribbean with respect to technology readiness. In terms of economic growth, the country has made significant gains since 2001/02, the period during which it began to experience a major economic turnaround. By 2005, net inflows of foreign direct investment had risen to US$0.94 billion, peaking at US$2.8 billion in 2008. Overall, net inflows of foreign direct investment have been consistent over the period 2005-2009, with a median value of US$0.88 billion. In addition, a sound banking system, strong investor protection, tax legislation that supports foreign investment and a prime geographic location between North and South America, all combine to give Trinidad and Tobago a competitive advantage over many of the other Caribbean islands. However, there is still much room for improvement with respect to the critical infrastructural and institutional business elements required to attract and retain sought after investors. According to the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index, Trinidad and Tobago is ranked 84 (out of 139 countries) in the 2010/11 report. Competitors in the region for international investment such as Barbados, Jamaica, and Guyana are ranked 43rd, 95th and 110th respectively. Before Trinidad and Tobago can seize the brass ring as the region’s Business Leader, the country must put the essential components in place to become the Caribbean Tiger akin to the Asian counterparts that it has sought to emulate. Notably, in the National Budget of 2011, entitled “Facing the Issues, Turning the Economy Around,” the Honourable Minister of Finance highlighted his Government’s plans to revitalise the agricultural sector, expand tourism, and realign the country towards a greater focus on the development of a knowledge

Patricia Lewis

Patricia Lewis

economy through education, innovation and entrepreneurship. To achieve these objectives, priority investment areas include offshore medical and education programmes, shipbuilding and repair, music, fashion and film. The Honourable Minister also noted his Government’s intent to attract foreign direct investment aided by the establishment of an International Business Centre (IBC). The IBC will serve as a catalyst for international investments. It will provide a gateway to enable the business infrastructure and systems required for new investment products and services. If these initiatives are pursued with focused determination and vigour, Trinidad and Tobago will be strategically positioned for foreign investments. To be lured, foreign investors need, at the very least, the presence and reliability of the following business elements: (i) ease of setting up business (ii) reasonable cost of doing business (iii) high levels of workforce productivity (iv) adequate e-readiness and (v) a stable and safe business environment. Ease of setting up business-: To minimise the difficulties associated with setting up a business in Trinidad and Tobago, the Government has recently invested in TTBizLink, an IT-platform designed to facilitate business and trade. This integrated platform should greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to get a new business off the ground. Cost of doing business-: Many developing countries are plagued by the high costs of doing business because of congested roadways, inefficient port management, high costs of air travel, and prohibitive bureaucracy, among other challenges. In the absence of these requisite efficiency enhancers, international corporations are dissuaded from doing business. To address this, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has implemented largescale projects to improve the quality of the transport as well as import/export networks. In addition, it is working to enhance the country’s technology capabilities to improve process efficiencies in the public sector. Levels of productivity-: Trinidad and Tobago is one of the few nations in the world that offers free education from pre-school through to the first degree at tertiary level. With a literacy rate of

98 per cent, and considerable skilled and professional labour, the country is ahead of many islands in the region. E- Readiness-: Trinidad and Tobago is in the process of legislative reform to support e-commerce. It is also in the process of implementing its fastforward plan for integrated connectivity within the country. This will support the country’s eventual passage toward a fully integrated e-commerce environment. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is steadfast in its commitment to developing information and communication technologies to support economic growth and development, and has identified nation-wide integration of ICT as an area of focus. National security-: Perhaps the most significant issue facing the country is the escalating crime rate. Apart from the increasing threats to personal security and well-being, the business costs of crime and violence cannot be ignored. To reassure international corporations who may be deterred from choosing Trinidad and Tobago as their off-shore location of choice because of security risks, the Government has enlisted the services of internationally trained senior police personnel to tactically deal with, and curb, rising crime. There is no doubt that the political directorate recognises the crucial importance of these foundational elements, and has focused attention at both the policy level and through budget priority programmes. Corrective action and reform initiatives, some of which were noted above, are already in progress to tackle a number of these issues, and the benefits to date are apparent. Notwithstanding the need to comprehensively address investment barriers, Trinidad and Tobago can still boast a leadership position, given the infrastructural and systems advancements that have been made within the last decade. As a result, the business potential and future investment prospects are extremely promising. Data Source: Disclaimer: This article has been prepared as general information on matters of interest only, and does not constitute the viewpoint of PricewaterhouseCoopers Ltd.

Business Trinidad & Tobago • 15

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: New Opportunities in Downstream Energy

Daren Ragoonanan (R.Eng.) Business Analyst - Office of the President National Energy Corporation

New Opportunities in Downstream Energy


rinidad and Tobago has been utilising natural gas as a feedstock for producing downstream products since 1959. In the late 1960s, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago took a policy decision to monetise natural gas that was being flared. This decision resulted in the establishment of the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd (NGC) in 1975 and National Energy Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd (NEC) in 1979. Consequently, the State made investments in the production of iron and steel, ammonia, urea and methanol plants at the Point Lisas Industrial Estate. While these downstream ventures have been economically beneficial to Trinidad and Tobago by way of revenue generation, job creation, capital formation and technology transfer, it has been argued that the real value added element of the natural gas monetisation value chain occurs when these intermediate products are used in the production of tertiary products. New businesses, centred on these downstream derivative products, would allow for levels of product differentiation that do not exist in the production of primary chemicals such as methanol and ammonia. This will also enable the energy sector to be leveraged so as to create linkages with other sectors in the economy, specifically the manufacturing sector. Further diversification of the natural gas utilisation mix is desirable, as it adds another layer of industries and further lends to the development of a diversified and sustainable petrochemical industrial base.

16 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

National Energy Corporation NEC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NGC, was incorporated in 1979 to monetise the country’s natural resources and develop and manage industrial marine infrastructure. As a result, NEC was involved in the construction and operation of the early petrochemical plants at the Point Lisas Industrial Estate. Today, NEC’s mandate encompasses the conceptualisation, promotion, development and facilitation of new energy-based and downstream industries in Trinidad and Tobago. Strategy for Downstream Development The strategy for development of the downstream natural gas industry is premised on the uncertainty of commodity prices, which can be volatile and unpredictable. As such, new projects need to focus on downstream developments and opportunities, which must include higher value products, thus creating greater added-value for our natural gas resource and increased employment opportunities (construction and permanent). This shift in focus will also create enhanced potential and a wider base for research and development, thus leading to a knowledge-based and more technologically advanced industry. More importantly, though, the output from the energy sector would be used to create real and sustainable opportunities in the manufacturing sector. Downstream Opportunities The key focus areas for investment and development include petrochemicals, plastics, metals, biochemical and agro-

Why Choose Trinidad: New Opportunities in Downstream Energy

based products, inorganic chemicals, and renewable energy developments. Energy efficiency, the development of local content and energy services are integral and critical to the development of these industries (see Figure 1). Ammonia Downstream and Melamine In terms of downstream petrochemical developments, efforts continue to further develop and diversify the downstream ammonia sector. With the commissioning of the US$1.7 billion Methanol Holdings Trinidad Ltd (MHTL) AUM I (ammonia/ UAN/melamine) Complex last year, the country is now a major global player in melamine production – 60,000 tonnes per year. Melamine applications can include laminates, coatings, adhesives, mouldings and plasticisers. Further to this milestone, in November 2010, the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs (MEEA), NEC and MHTL hosted a conference on Investment Opportunities in Melamine, which involved manufacturers, academia, financial institutions and energy sector stakeholders, with the aim of forging linkages to allow business opportunities to develop. The seminar was very successful and feedback showed that 68 per cent of participants identified opportunities for developing local businesses using melamine, while 81 per cent indicated interest in participating in a follow-up seminar on other similartype investment opportunities, using output from the energy sector. As such, NEC is currently working on the development of melamine

manufacturing opportunities profiles that can be used by prospective investors in a meaningful way to create, develop and nurture local enterprises using the output from the energy sector. It is also envisaged that there will be co-operation among manufacturers, entrepreneurs, financial institutions and State organisations in further developing these profiles. The goal is that these profiles will offer information that a potential manufacturer/ entrepreneur can use in a meaningful way to assess the potential business opportunities. The product profiles are expected to be completed by June 2011. In this regard, the ‘melamine model’ may be used as a template for the development of other downstream manufacturing projects for future petrochemical plants. It is envisaged that this model would also be used for melamine urea formaldehyde (MUF), as it becomes available from the recently approved AUM II Complex to be built by MHTL. Methanol Downstream NEC recently completed a Market Study on preferred options for downstream methanol industries that can be developed in Trinidad and Tobago. Based on this study, the likely methanol derivative industries for further development include methanol to olefins, plastics, acetic acid and methanol to gasoline. Other Petrochemicals There are other specialty chemical industries which can be readily developed in Trinidad and Tobago. These include maleic

Business Trinidad & Tobago • 17

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: New Opportunities in Downstream Energy

anhydride and its derivatives from butane, as well as polyethylene from ethane. Inorganic Chemicals There is a tremendous opportunity for the development of inorganic chemical industries in Trinidad and Tobago, which can include industries such as calcium chloride, calcium hydroxide, calcium sulphate and magnesium hydroxide. The benefits of such projects include minimal infrastructural, land, natural gas and capital requirements, as well as a lower degree of complexity when compared to establishing larger, organic industries. Alternative Energy Industries Trinidad and Tobago can attract the development of alternative energy industries by leveraging its strengths in the energy industry. There could be opportunities to develop windbased and solar industries, as well as the manufacturing of solar panels. NEC is a member of the Renewable Energy Committee that is charged with the formulation of a Renewable Energy Policy. A Request for Proposals (RFP) is currently being developed for the development of a photovoltaic industry (PV) in Trinidad and Tobago. Energy Efficiency NEC has embarked on a study to establish a framework for the execution of energy audits for the determination of baseline data for the plants located on the Point Lisas Industrial Estate. This framework is expected to lead to the formulation of an Energy Efficiency Policy for the promotion of energy efficiency in the petrochemical sector. Local Content and Energy Services NEC led a team comprising the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago (ECTT), NGC, National Petroleum Marketing Company (NPMC) and Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd (Petrotrin) in developing a framework for the creation of a sustainable energy services sector and local content policy. This report was submitted to the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs (MEEA) in September 2010 with several recommendations. The Honourable Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs Mrs. Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, in her address to the ECTT’s Energy Conference earlier this year, announced that in order to create immediate opportunities for the energy services sector, two recommendations would be implemented in this fiscal year: 18 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

Figure 1: Key Focus Areas for Development

i. State Energy companies will be required to implement a local content policy to enhance local participation in their projects. ii. For all incoming projects, local energy service companies will be given specific packages within the project. Conclusion The establishment of new industries based on downstream natural gas activity requires careful planning and an appreciation, on the part of the public and private sector, of the opportunities that would be created as a result of the production and availability of raw materials that can support manufacturing industries. It will also require entrepreneurial energy and initiative on the part of the local private sector, partnerships with regional and international businesses. While, in the past, the development of the downstream energy sector has been mainly confined to Point Lisas, new investments will have other options such as the Union Industrial Estate located in La Brea. Downstream industries in plastics, inorganic chemicals, methanol, ammonia and melamine also have the significant potential for innovative, research-oriented collaboration between Universities and industry. The next phase of gas-based industrialisation, which has already commenced, will therefore see Trinidad and Tobago obtaining more value from its natural gas asset and, in so doing, lay the platform for sustainable economic development by creating meaningful linkages between the energy and manufacturing sectors.

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Investment Opportunities in Agriculture

Desiree Seebaran

Investment Opportunities in Agriculture


n the midst of a global food security crisis, Trinidad & Tobago is poised to ramp up its food production and reduce 2010’s $4 billion food import bill, according to the Minister of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs Vasant Bharath. Minister Bharath wants to move agriculture’s contribution to T&T’s GDP from under 0.6 per cent to three per cent within five years. To this end, the Ministry of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs (MFPLMA) has spent most of the first year consulting with stakeholders and has come up with a strong list of incentives and plans for the way forward in T&T’s food production. Crops like cocoa, citrus and coconut, once staples of the local agriculture industry, now decimated by an ageing labour force and disease, are great examples of key investment opportunities because they afford opportunities for value-added products beyond just producing and harvesting the crop itself, said Minister Bharath. “We have to restructure our agricultural sector to ensure that we can encourage young people who can embrace technology, embrace new techniques and run farming as a business. We’re looking at value addition in terms of processing or semiprocessing some of the items,” he explained. For example, T&T is one of the few countries that produces trinitario or fine flavour cocoa, which is worth much more on the global cocoa market than the blander cocoa varieties. The Ministry wants to encourage growers not just to produce beans

20 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

to be shipped, but to get involved in some earlier stages of the conversion process to add value to the cocoa that T&T produces, as compared to that of other countries. To encourage investment, Minister Bharath has a long list of policy support incentives that are meant to seduce both new and existing farmers and investors into ‘going back to the land.’ Financial incentives on farm equipment have also been increased, and added to the list are financial incentives on irrigation equipment, improved farming infrastructure, praedial larceny prevention and land preparation. These incentives cover not only crop farming like cocoa and citrus, but small ruminants (sheep and goat), poultry, rabbit and aquaculture (see Table 1). T&T imports about 90 per cent of the goat meat and mutton we consume, the Minister said, so encouraging small ruminant farming will help decrease the food import bill. The Fisheries is another food production asset that needs boosting. “Foreign fishermen have been deep trawling our sea fisheries and now they are depleted,” said Minister Bharath. “So we’re looking to encourage aquaculture.” However, agriculture and food production cannot take place without access to land. For years, if farmers did not possess land titles and could not get regularised with the MFPLMA, they were unable to access any Ministry financial incentives or loans from the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB). “You may have applied 20 years ago for regularisation, but couldn’t get it because of many delays within the Ministry,”

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Investment Opportunities in Agriculture

Minister of Agriculture’s goal - quadruple Agriculture’s contribution to T&T’s GDP within five years.

explained Minister Bharath. “Your neighbour, by comparison, has the title to his land and so can access cheaper loans and incentives. That becomes a disincentive for you because you can’t afford to sell at the price he can sell at, or you don’t make as much money as he does. And eventually you go out of business or you stop farming.” To encourage productive agriculture, the MFPLMA’s new policy is that farmers no longer need to have the title to land to access incentives; registering as a farmer at any agricultural extension office is enough. The Ministry has also fast-tracked the long-planned mega farms as another option for investors in food production. A total of 11 farms are scheduled to be commissioned and Minister Bharath promises that three will definitely be operational by September 2011: Guyanese consortium Two Brothers Rice Corporation in Caroni, Technology Farms in Orange Grove, and Caribbean Chemicals in Edinburgh, Chaguanas. The delay, the Minister said, has largely been due to the farms getting approvals from the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) to acquire a licence. But the MFPLMA and EMA have streamlined the process with a checklist document that clearly outlines the requirements of any prospective mega farm to meet EMA standards. These include a storm water management plan, sediment and erosion plan, and pest and solid waste management plans. “The mega farms will produce a consistent supply of vegetables, and assist in stabilising food prices,” the Minister said. “In terms of mega farm investors, we’re looking for the introduction of new, state-of-the-art technology to increase local agricultural production in an environmentally sustainable manner. We are also looking for value added linkages like export opportunities.” The farms will produce a range of produce such as rice, tomato, pigeon peas, citrus and papaya, with 80 per cent of produce geared for the domestic market and 20 per cent for export. Production estimates are impressive; the Two Brothers Rice Corporation is expected to produce 130 metric tonnes per annum and the Technology Farm in Orange Grove, 1,500 metric tonnes per annum. With all of the incentives the Ministry has planned, it also has a lot of work to do to support food production and agriculture through policy and infrastructure, the Minister noted. 22 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

The MFPLMA will build about 300 water retention ponds for irrigation this year alone, as well as 250 kilometres of access roads across the country before the rainy season sets in. Greenhouse farming is definitely one of the Ministry’s strategies to encourage investment into food production, the Minister said. Farmers need to be educated about the technology and provided with the tools to implement, which is what the Ministry intends to do. “Greenhouse technology is a protected technology; it’s less afflicted by climate, pests and diseases. It has higher yields, more consistent quality and uses milder pesticides.” The government is investing $20 million into greenhouse technology through the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) and the Ministry has partnered with energy giant Repsol on their community greenhouse project. The Ministry is looking to diffuse this project throughout the country by August, and to get 16 extension officers trained in greenhouse technology through the project as well.” To encourage youth interest in the sector, the MFPLMA has been in talks with the University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine, the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and the College of Science, Technology & Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT) to prompt a restructure of the available tertiary agriculture programmes. For 12 months, agriculture students will leave the classroom and be placed on farms by the Ministry to get a better understanding of the industry the degree is preparing them for. And the Ministry also wants to put these brilliant agriculturally-inclined minds to work. In the past, final year agriculture projects with ideas for improving food production were snapped up by foreign companies, said Minister Bharath. “We want to be in a position to bring those projects to life,” so the MFPLMA intends to fund the best of those projects annually to help them become viable business improvements in farming and food production, he said. The MFPLMA revised incentives programme will give farmers rebates on a percentage of equipment and infrastructural costs incurred while investing in certain areas of food production. Farmers must be registered with the Ministry and provide receipts for incentives to be processed. Table 1 shows some of the incentives available through this programme. A full listing will be available at the Ministry’s County Offices.

Edison Boodoosingh


Rebate offered on new tractors for 20 per cent of the cost, up to $50,000 (was increased from $25,000). The rebate is now extended to used tractor equipment for the same percentage of the cost up to $25,000. To encourage rice farming, a rebate of 20 per cent is offered for rice harvesters, up to $200,000.


• •

A 75 per cent rebate on establishing retention ponds for irrigation, up to $24,000, is available. A 50 per cent rebate incentive for water pumps is available, valued up to $20,000. Other irrigation and watering equipment will be rebated 50 per cent of the cost, up of $40,000.


Rebates for land preparation are up to 100 per cent of the cost: o $6,000 per hectare for establishment of citrus farms; $4,000 per hectare for rehabilitation. o $6,000 per hectare for new cocoa fields; $4,000 for rehabilitating established cocoa fields. o $6,000 per hectare for new coconut fields; $4,000 per hectare for existing coconut fields


$30,000 rebate on pre-approved housing, infrastructure and waste disposal for sheep and goat farming; good for up to 50 per cent of the total cost. $75,000 rebate for implementation of pre-approved housing and infrastructure for poultry, for up to 30 per cent of the cost. $15,000 for implementation of rabbitries establishment and construction, up to 50 per cent of total cost.



The Ministry provides an incentive of $40,000 for farms who intend to export internationally to become HACCP approved (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, also known as the HACCP, is a system of safety in food production and pharmaceuticals). $50,000 incentive for the establishment of an approved agro-processing plant, up to 50 per cent of total cost. Rebate of $30,000 for electronic equipment and/or security systems to prevent praedial larceny. Rebate of $25,000 for fencing to prevent praedial larceny; both rebates cover up to 50 per cent of the total cost.

Business Trinidad & Tobago • 23

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Discovering T&T’s Meeting and Conference Assets

Lisa Ghany Managing Director Xceptional Events Ltd

Discovering T&T’s Meeting and Conference Assets


rinidad and Tobago is a meeting planner’s hidden treasure - an up and coming relatively new destination for meetings and conferences, perfect for the world traveller looking for a unique location to do business and experience something new and exciting. It is here that globetrotters will encounter the true Caribbean diversity that is Trinidad and Tobago. This former British colony has a rich history dating back to the 15th century when Christopher Columbus discovered the twin islands and started a reaction that would result in many other settlers gracing our shores, among them the Africans, British, Chinese, Dutch, French, and Indians. The result - a multiethnic society that is reflected in the mixed races and faces of our people, a cultural callaloo* that manifests itself in an eclectic calendar of events that cannot be found anywhere else in the Caribbean. Combine this diversity with cities and villages that are surrounded by the natural fauna and flora that is indigenous to this part of the hemisphere, add in the charm and warmth of the people of these towns and their renowned hospitality and, altogether, this potpourri creates Trinidad and Tobago’s unique selling proposition. Along with its natural charm, Trinidad and Tobago also boasts developed communication and transportation infrastructure, meeting and conference facilities which are provided at internationally recognised establishments such as the Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre,

24 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

Courtyard Marriott and Holiday Inn Hotels, together offering over 1,500 new and contemporary hotel rooms. Airlift from Europe, North America and the Caribbean is available, making it easily accessible from most major hubs. Our track record for event management is also good. We have successfully hosted the 5th Summit of the Americas and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in 2009, and have a cadre of trained event managers and meeting planners locally that can support their international counterparts. So how do we make all of this work for us in a highly competitive global market where foreign travel is down and most countries are promoting “staycations” and alternative ways of communicating? The future is clear; the answer is simple. The industry is shifting and the way we do business must be better. We must be able to supply value to the consumer. This value, according to Meeting Planners International (MPI) 2011 industry report, will be reflected in “unparalleled changes in technology that will bolster communication, and that ROI (return on investment) and strategic meetings management will be vital to business success, and that new and existing connections with your peers will lead to smarter events.” The effects of the global financial crisis has made accountability and ROI top of the agenda for organisations, and meeting planners must be able to provide detailed proof of this. Studies by MPI also show that globally, Caribbean arrivals make up only seven percent of the global meetings market with four per cent of those visitor arrivals coming from Europe, one per cent

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Discovering T&T’s Meeting and Conference Assets

How corporate planners select a meeting location: “We focus on destinations that are easy to work with, and then we negotiate flexible attrition clauses and F&B costs, better rates, more concessions.”

from Canada, and three per cent from the USA. This converts to 80,000 business travel arrivals in 2009, according to the Central Statistical Office of Trinidad and Tobago. In 2010, my firm - Xceptional Events Ltd - collaborated with fellow local event manager Derek Lewis of Unlimited Functions Ltd on the Eventology Conference and Trade Show. Guest speakers included King Dahl, Creative Executive Director of Event Design at MGM Resorts Events, who commented on the island’s ability and potential. “I’ve experienced wonderful Trini cultural & natural sites. The conference is now underway. I’m truly impressed with what they’ve executed. Attendees will gain a lot of meaningful insight from presenters.” In February 2011, the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago hosted the T & T Energy Conference. Conference Manager Christine Francois of Accent Events Ltd noted that the conference attracted over 500 delegates, local and foreign, during a two-day conference which included workshops, a trade show and social networking events. In that same month, T&T was also the venue for the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management Regional Conference. Later, in June, it will host the Caribbean Investment Forum which is organised by the Commonwealth Business Council. These events are but a few of the many professional association and business to business meetings that are currently contributing significantly to the GDP of the country. The key to success for Trinidad and Tobago in the future will be in its ability to remain competitive within it niche market. This will hinge on a few important strategies, including the ability of local meeting planners to implement a Strategic Meetings Management programme that is more targeted in 2011 in terms of size, content and partnerships. This will result in events of a much higher value. These meetings will require new standards, expectations, budget considerations and evaluatory research to be successful. Technology will continue to form a critical component of the conference along with green initiatives. The result will be the overall improvement of the quality of the experience for delegates and presenters. The selection of a location will be based primarily on access, affordability and appropriateness to the specific meeting. According to one corporate planner: “We focus on destinations

26 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

that are easy to work with, and then we negotiate flexible attrition clauses and F& B (food and beverage) costs, better rates, more concessions.” The Tourism Development Company (TDC) has recognised the need for a more strategic approach to the meetings and conference industry and, in 2009, the Trinidad and Tobago Conventions Bureau was formed with a mandate to “establish the organisation as a respected source of impartial, well-researched and relevant advisory and support services to both buyers and suppliers in the business tourism industry….the Trinidad and Tobago Conventions Bureau (TTCB) seeks to raise the level of support and collaboration among stakeholders, while boosting business tourism revenue by increasing business travellers’ length of stay and the diversity of post and pre-conference activities.” This, along with an aggressive destination management campaign to market and advertise the islands, should result in increased business for the sector. The TTCB provides an integral support mechanism for private sector initiatives and this collaboration will augur well for the industry, forming stronger intra-industry relationships that will benefit all the stakeholders involved. The future of the Conference industry for Trinidad and Tobago looks bright. Our ability to keep abreast of trends, adapt and be flexible, and provide our partners with value for their investment will be the key to sustainability of our industry. Future meetings will be characterised by a focus on emerging issues facing the industry, including meeting design, adult learning, content delivery, technology and creating unforgettable experiences. (*Callalloo – a unique Trinidadian dish with a variety of diverse ingredients combined and pureed to create a delicious, thick soup or a side dish with rice, macaroni pie or provision.) Useful Links: International Special Events Society: Meeting Planners International T&T Conventions Bureau: Website: E-mail: Phone: 1-868-675-7034 Lisa Ghany: 1-868-663-0865

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Unleashing T&T’s Fashion Potential

Kay Baldeosingh-Arjune Editor BT&T

Unleashing T&T’s Fashion Potential

Right Incentives + Right Investment = Exciting Rewards


&T is an exciting emerging fashion capital with the potential to take its place alongside Carnival, cricket, methanol and LNG – other areas for which the country is world-renowned and world class. With a torrent of business and investment opportunities waiting to be released by the right investors and the right financing, has this industry reached its tipping point? A number of important developments in the last five years have certainly brought the industry closer to this point. Industry studies have endorsed the sector’s potential, identifying business opportunities, Best Bets, and a development path. Two strong organisations, Fashion Week T&T and the Fashion Association of Trinidad & Tobago, have emerged to organise and lobby for the industry. Two exciting fashion shows - FWTT and Makin’ Style Trinidad & Tobago Fashion Collections - are now on the annual calendar attracting international press coverage and showcasing T&T talent. The Caribbean Academy of Fashion and Design (CAFD) at the University of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT) is offering worldclass training in key aspects of the fashion industry, including business management. CAFD’s first 40 students in its Bachelor of Fashion Design programme are expected to graduate and enter the industry in 2012 armed with the latest business tools and fashion techniques.

28 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

The industry has won the commitment of the country’s new Prime Minister and a promise of government support in fasttracking its development. The first tangible demonstration of that support is a $10 million Innovation Financing Facility that can be accessed by players in this sector. Developments in technology and global logistics have opened up new opportunities for small countries and small businesses. T&T exporters can now take better advantage of these opportunities with the roll-out of TTbizLink – a single electronic window that will simplify the process of trade documentation; new electronic transactions legislation; and the ongoing implementation of the country’s national ICT plan which has already resulted in faster speeds, lower rates and a business to business e-portal ( Recent favourable reviews of T&T designers at trade shows in London, Colombia and Jamaica testify to the continuing appeal of T&T design. Niche Markets Niche markets have been identified for T&T in textiles design; high-end resort wear; handcrafted tailoring; accessories design including handbag, swimwear and jewelry design; and costume design and manufacture for carnivals around the world.

Edison Boodoosingh

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Unleashing T&T’s Fashion Potential

Bespoke Tailoring Supporting the bespoke tailoring niche, local Fashion Management Consultant Christopher Nathan noted in his Vision Proposal for the Fashion Industry, submitted to the Ministry of Trade & Industry in 2005 and to the Prime Minister in 2010: “Trinidad has a long, meritorious tradition of fine tailoring that spans over 300 years, according to the research conducted through antique books on the history of Trinidad & Tobago. Up until the tailoring programme was discontinued, the John S. Donaldson Technical Institute in Port-of-Spain graduated hundreds of tailors who make a good living from their trade in cities and towns around the Caribbean.” Nathan, who is also Programme Administrator at CAFD and a Board member of FATT, says the Academy hopes to offer Bespoke and Production Tailoring programmes in the future. With the expectation that graduates would establish bespoke tailoring businesses in the proposed Port-of-Spain Fashion District. “The tailoring strip can then be marketed throughout the Americas as a competitive option to London’s Savile Row and Hong Kong’s Tailoring District,” he said. Dock Road Fashion Strip The government proposes that the waterfront development project will eventually stretch across the length of Dock Road from the Hyatt Regency Trinidad hotel to Movietowne. Nathan envisages that Dock Road will be transformed into a type of Collins Road, South Beach Miami, attracting high-end fashion boutiques as well as fine dining restaurants and entertainment. “International brands can be approached to set up branches of their retail businesses on the strip. Brands such as Gucci, Prada, Louis Vitton, Oscar de la Renta, in addition to the best of T&T design houses: Meiling, Heather Jones, Claudia Pegus, Radical Designs, Millhouse Clothing, The Cloth, Zadd & Eastman and Peter Elias to name a few,” he said. Best Bets Business Opportunities Armed with feedback from industry stakeholders, consultants Michele Reis and Ian Ivey produced a 2008 report entitled: Fashion Advanced Sector Foresight Project: Best Bet Investment Opportunity Cases, commissioned by the National Institute for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (NIHERST). The top three Best Bet Opportunities identified were: - e-Suiting - Port of Spain Fashion District - Caribbean Design Portal The full report, and details of these and other Best Bets, can be viewed at:

30 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

Edison Boodoosingh

Port-of-Spain Fashion District Leisurely shoppers - both foreign and local - stroll along wide, tree-lined pedestrian-only streets, admiring unique “Made in T&T” clothing and accessories displayed in store windows, nodding at friendly police officers making their rounds, stopping to buy locally designed fabric to take to the fashion designer’s workshop a few doors down, or resting a while on strategically placed benches before continuing to enjoy the sights and sounds of the T&T Fabric and Fashion District. This is the vision Nathan paints of a Port of Spain Fashion District that could position the city to be “a major world fashion centre by the year 2020.” Pointing out that each region in the world has a fashion centre, for example, New York is the fashion capital of North America while Sao Paulo is the fashion capital of South America; Nathan notes that: “The Caribbean, which includes Central America, is the only region in the world without a fashion centre.” Industrial Park Fashion Industry consultant Claudia Pegus - acclaimed designer and recipient of the Chaconia Medal (Silver) national award in 2010, also proposes the establishment of an industrial park dedicated to ‘Made in TT’ apparel and carnival costume production with government offering tax incentives to attract investors.

Caribbean Academy for Fashion and Design CAFD Programme Co-ordinator Carol Mongo says: “History dictates that by the second decade of a new century, new fashion trends emerge. We believe the designers from Trinidad & Tobago have a shot at marking this new era in a substantial way.” She explained the concept of CAFD and the impact she expects it to have on the industry. CAFD was developed using a tried-and-true model of the best fashion schools in North America and Europe. Students are formally trained in all aspects encountered in a fashion atelier….from research concepts and collection planning to creation, construction, and the successful conclusion of the finished product. At the same time, they are reminded that fashion is first and foremost a business. Foreign investors looking to invest in the local fashion industry should feel a degree of assurance knowing that Trinidad & Tobago can now boast of affording its youth the same top level instruction and facilities as those found in the world’s most prestigious schools—Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons School of Design, London College of Art, Esmod. The alumni of those institutions profoundly contributed to the success of their country’s fashion industries. Given the time, money, effort and quality control methods currently in place at CAFD, we have reason to believe we will enjoy the same success. The discipline instilled in our classrooms (attendance and on-time performance) together with the many creative skills taught (both artisan and digitally enhanced) should prove to be more than enough to convince foreign investors that Trinidad & Tobago not only takes the fashion industry seriously, it is ready and able to do business in the 21st century marketplace.” The future of Trinidad & Tobago’s fashion industry

lies in the hands of its youth. They are the ones who speak the language and who know the aesthetics, lifestyle, needs and purchasing trends of their own generation. It is the youth who can help guide foreign investors to ideas for new products as well as new modes of communications that address the youth of today. We believe that Trinidad & Tobago’s designers have a great deal to contribute to the world market and we are here to help hone their natural talent. Having enhanced these innate skills with courses that teach Conceptual Design, Collections planning, Research techniques, along with two types of Pattern Drafting (Flat and 3-D), Textile Design, Jewelry Design, Handbag Design, Digital Imaging Techniques; not to mention courses in Entrepreneurship, Distribution and Presentation; we believe Fashion Studies will provide our region the same advantages as those designers enjoy in other parts of the world. CAFD is already having an impact on the industry. “Our students in both Fashion Design and Fashion Management have many, many ideas for new businesses and products both locally and internationally. Several students already have launched small jewelry businesses. Some graduates of our Diploma programme discovered their studies at CAFD have fortified their own dressmaking businesses. Their products are now more diversified and better made, thus resulting in higher revenue. Other students are formulating ideas for garments, patterns and textile businesses and services. Students who entered CAFD in 2008 and 2009 have all vowed to work closely together with the hopes of moving towards a renewed and ever exciting industry, capable of competing regionally and internationally in their quest to make Trinidad & Tobago the Caribbean’s Capital of Style,” Mongo said.

Business Trinidad & Tobago • 31

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Unleashing T&T’s Fashion Potential

Competitive Advantages Pegus identifies T&T’s competitive advantages in the fashion industry as: - Creative Energy - Creative inspiration from our unique festivals, landscapes, flora & fauna - Abundance of natural and energy resources - Human Resource (a highly educated and technology savvy population) - Regionally recognised and respected designers & fashion labels - FWTT: A successful fashion week acting as the catalyst for a unique ‘Caribbean aesthetic,’ bringing designers, buyers and international media together to promote and stimulate the industry - Well-developed business and financial sectors - Ideal geographical position for trade at the crossroads of the Americas - The Caribbean Academy of Fashion & Design In addition, she notes: “International fashion leaders have consistently showered praise on T&T’s fashion labels for its innovative style and superb craftsmanship.”

Edison Boodoosingh

Industry Constraints In 2001, a study undertaken by Kairi Consultants Ltd for the Caribbean Development Bank identified some of the factors constraining the fashion industry across the Caribbean and which, a decade later, still hold true for T&T. Removing those constraints will free the fashion industry to soar. Constraints identified include:- absence of incentives and benefits enjoyed by operators in free zones, lack of access to venture capital, no economies of scale and scope, absence of internationally competitive textile mills and resulting heavy reliance on imported fabric, and little opportunity to enjoy the externalities derived from the clustering of manufacturing and marketing activities as experienced by firms in countries such as Italy. Despite the difficulties, the report noted that some firms had achieved “considerable export success in extra-regional markets” and identified four common characteristics that contributed to their success:

Fashion Industry Statistics According to data from the Central Statistical Office, T&T spent an estimated $132.6 million on imported clothing in 2010 while it exported $16.18 million in 2010. Total Exports Imports Year


2009: *2010:





718,448 224,289

21,788,649 21,539,812

7,042,481 3,729,398

196,455,340 145,499,189


470,166 236,325

16,857,743 16,177,313

7,555,146 49,823,469

197,041,804 132,598,227

*2010 figures - provisional

32 • Business Trinidad & Tobago


Source: Central Statistical Office of Trinidad and Tobago

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Unleashing T&T’s Fashion Potential

- International exposure gained through participation in trade shows - A mastery of production technologies - Unique marketing and distributing methods - A breed of “new” managers with experience gained abroad Local Investment “We need to set up a plan to interest local entrepreneurs in local investment. I do believe that once foreigners see local people taking the plunge they will be only too happy to join,” says Rosemary Stone, a founding director of FWTT. For Fashion Designer Robert Young, owner of The Cloth, finding the right match is a big challenge. “A lot of my business I lose because I don’t have product available” because of a shortage of skilled workers or lack of capital, he said. He produces based on orders and advance deposits. Finding the right investor who will not want to have control or own his product has been an obstacle to greater expansion. In the 1980s, he benefited from a Development Finance Ltd revolving loan facility for small enterprises that, he said, really worked for him and other designers, but was discontinued.

Export Challenge “The problem we have with exports is that at present our designer production doesn’t conform to those markets we have been trying to align ourselves with. For example, we do not design seasonally or especially for cruise wear, which is where they place us, therefore our sales methodology needs to be carefully crafted, fitted and shown to the right-sized audience such as boutiques and/or small specialised shops or even at specific cultural events,” said Stone, a former Trinidad Express Newspaper Fashion Editor. Young’s strategy for breaking into the US market is using his social connections. He says: “I have found one or two shops in the States that buy my stuff. Each one of us has family or friends who can get us in somewhere. We have to use our family and friend connections abroad to get into small shops. Get those references.” Domestic Marketing Challenge “The fashion industry needs to learn how to market their goods effectively. No longer are the days of pretty girls selling pretty dresses the way to go. First, we need to be selling local designer items in local mainstream clothes stores. Other than the few designer owned boutiques as now exists, there are no T&T locally made and labeled garments in the clothes shops other

Business Trinidad & Tobago • 33

London Tailor On T&T Tailoring Trinidadian tailor Andrew Ramroop, owns the Maurice Sedwell store (established 1938) on the renowned Savile Row in London. Ramroop has committed to opening a bespoke tailoring establishment in Trinidad in the proposed Dock Road Fashion Strip. He shares his perspective with BT&T on the potential for Trinidad and Tobago to be a world competitor in high quality suiting. With established and new players already well-placed in key fashion districts in major cities, what potential is there for T&T developing a lucrative bespoke tailoring niche that could become a significant foreign exchange earner? There are huge opportunities for new businesses that offer high quality merchandise and exceptional service. It is of vital importance that the matter of high quality be addressed as that is what would distinguish local suppliers from ‘cheap’ suppliers in other territories. My company attracts 70 per cent of its business from abroad, a large percentage of my overseas business comes from North America. North America is on T&T’s doorstep. It is an untapped resource of business for T&T tailors. However, to get a foothold in such markets, Trinidad and Tobago’s tailors have to be able to offer high standards in cut, fit and finish. So, to be precise in answering your question, there is huge potential but local suppliers have to raise their game to compete and, to do so, they must be trained to international standards. Are you serious about setting up a Maurice Sedwell shop in Trinidad? It is in my plan to introduce the Maurice Sedwell brand to the local market. We have a customer base in 56 countries including Trinidad. All of those customers come to London for our reputed service. We would offer our standard of service by giving the customer a new shopping experience. We would be offering a comprehensive collection of luxury goods – including apparel, shoes, men’s and women’s suits and casual wear - all made in England and Italy. However, my ultimate aim is to be able to source local manufacturers that are able to produce to our standards as we exercise very strict quality inspection. What do you think of the proposal to develop a Port of Spain Fashion District? This idea has to be well thought out. A focused Fashion District could be a good idea in that it can attract visitors to Trinidad as well as discerning local shoppers. However, the District must build a reputation for exceptional quality and service. Therefore, the stores that occupy the spaces have to stand for something that distinguishes itself from the Malls or High Street.

34 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

What kind of investor, if any, do you see being willing to finance projects in T&T’s fashion industry? Investors within the fashion industry are mostly interested in high quality production at a price which they can then export exclusively – not for local consumption. There is possibly a win-win situation for Trinidad manufacturers. By that I mean exchange rate advantage, favoured nation import/export duties and lower salaries than that of developed nations. If manufacturers can produce to the required standards, exercise discipline and deliver on time then there would be huge opportunities for investors. Trinidad and Tobago would be well advised to focus on developing skills to cater for niche market products. As a small island with a small population and limited workforce we would face a huge challenge in competing with countries such as India, China, Sri Lanka. However, if we focus on high quality production in shoe, apparel, handbags and such like for the high end market, we would not only produce within our limited resources, but build the island’s reputation for quality production. Are you also talking about making suits in different sizes and selling to high-end stores in the US and then they custom fit the garment when the customer makes a purchase? Both. In time, if T&T builds a reputation for exceptional quality in production [and service] customers will come to visit them as they do to come to see me. However, in an effort to maintain the business and get a faster turnaround on orders, tailors would have to visit their customers. Also, T&T needs to urgently develop making suits to sell to high-end stores in North America and Europe and custom fit when sold. The other opportunity is to offer Made to Measure whereby the customer orders at the stores and the manufacturer produces to order – that is the most lucrative option - but all three options will pay handsome dividends.

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Unleashing T&T’s Fashion Potential

than Meiling’s line for Micles and Radical in certain Malls. People coming to T&T should be able to purchase locally made clothes on Frederick Street or in San Fernando and Arima,” Stone said. Young agrees. He sees great potential for the local fashion industry but stressed: “We need the local market.” T&T spends millions of dollars on clothes. If designers got one per cent of that, the industry could grow, he said. He sees the local niche being festival clothes – weddings, graduation, christening, promotions, company celebrations, any event where people celebrate major milestones in their lives. For Stone, that expenditure demonstrates the potential for profits that could attract foreign investment. She said: “Today, people wear imported garments discontentedly because you never know who they’ll see in what they are wearing; and what they purchase (sometimes off the street) doesn’t always fit properly. This is an area that can be totally filled by local, designer-made, mass produced clothes whether they are off-the-rack or atelier displayed. Again, the market needs to be retailored to suit the economy. A strong Chamber of Fashion with the right agenda can assist here.” She added: “Fashion is a business, and a lucrative one in many countries, and designers all need to engage business managers, accountants and publicity agents to do things properly.” Skilled Worker Shortage Solutions proposed by designers to a shortage of skilled workers range from worker-owned arrangements, importing workers from other countries, a production facility that will rent time to designers, and a co-operative comprising designers, skilled workers and pattern makers. Fashion Chamber Both Pegus and Stone spoke of the need for a Fashion Chamber. Stone wants to see industry stakeholders, including interested business people, partner with Government “to structure a functioning company or a fashion chamber which will control and action administrative, secretarial and financial needs of the industry for, first of all, local marketing and then, by extension, overseas sales development.” R&D No-one has yet accessed the $10 million Innovation Financing Facility introduced in the 2010 National Budget. The R&D needs of the industry identified in the NIHERST foresighting report include: - development of new blends in textiles for fashion design to distinguish a unique Caribbean aesthetic in the international fashion marketplace - New fibers, both synthetic and natural, will have to be created in labs in T&T - Research in material science and manufacturing technology

is needed for accessories used by tailors, designers and dressmakers including buttons, zippers, thread and boards used to elevate collars and sleeves. Fashion Week T&T Since coming on the scene in 2008, FWTT has seen the event grow every year, expand to Tobago, and enjoy international press coverage. According to FWTT Chairperson Dianne Hunt in a press release: “Our focus for Fashion Week Trinidad & Tobago is to revitalise and develop the local fashion industry and bring about awareness of its lucrative socio-economic potential…We recognise the tremendous creative and technical fashion talent present in our nation and strive to provide opportunities for the fashion industry’s consistent development – both locally and regionally – ultimately becoming a global fashion force.” Fashion Association of T&T Formally launched in September 2010, FATT has been meeting monthly since 2007. Its mission is to develop standards for the profession of fashion design and to support the development of a viable fashion industry in Trinidad and Tobago. FATT is currently initiating discussions on discount incentives on raw materials from select distributors of fabric and trim supplies, and on providing access to manufacturing, pattern making, and production facilities. Conclusion Overflowing with talent, creativity, passion and high quality craftsmanship, these are the natural renewable resources available in abundance that create the potential for fashion to become a key economic sector in T&T and a significant generator of wealth, export earnings and highly skilled employment. With a coherent industry articulating clear goals and a strategic development plan - the T&T fashion industry, keen investors and a pro-active Government can make T&T an internationally recognised fashion capital of the Caribbean. Industry Reports: Fashion Advanced Sector Foresight Project: Best Bet Investment Opportunity Cases: Trade Policy and Caribbean Development: Prospects And Options: A Summary : pdf The Cultural Industries In Caricom: Trade And Development Challenges, November 2006, was prepared by lead consultant Keith Nurse for the CARICOM Regional Negotiating Machinery. Useful Links Fashion Week Trinidad & Tobago: Caribbean Academy of Fashion & Design: Caribbean American Fashion Exchange: Business Trinidad & Tobago • 35

Investor Testimonial: United Colors of Benetton

United Colors of Benetton Lorenza and Franca De Bona and Claudio Bordin

United Colors of Benetton is a global name and T&T can boast of having one of the most successful Benetton stores in the region, owned and operated by an Italian family who have found a second home here in what they say is: “the only true rainbow country in the world.” The family first opened Colors TT Ltd and then got the Benetton franchise for Trinidad & Tobago, which was opened in October 1993 in Trinidad (Long Circular Mall) by Lorenza and Franca De Bona and Claudio Bordin. “No particular reason brought us to Trinidad beside some sort of new adventure in an unknown place. The uniqueness of Trinidad did the rest and from a sort of game became a reality that got bigger and transformed into one of the most successful Benetton Stores in all the Central/South America Continent. We stayed because we enjoyed our new way of living, a chance to try something different. What helped our business was, and is, our vision from a different perspective. We are Italian, still going and living part of the year in Europe, and understanding the Caribbean/ Trinidadian taste for fashion we also try to combine it with our view and give a more trendy and forward look when we choose our collections. Living between Trinidad and Italy gives us a chance to get the best of the two worlds and, above all, never get tired of staying in one of the two places. The uniqueness of Trinidad is in her people. Different races, different religions, different cultures blending together. A concentrate of everything in a small island, probably the only true rainbow country in the world.” United Colors of Benetton (U.C.O.B.) Italian Clothing Company is present all over the world with more than 6,000 stores. U.C.O.B. sells fashion clothes for men, women and children with two main collections every year. Business Trinidad & Tobago • 37

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Distribution & Transshipment

Raphael John-Lall

Distribution & Transshipment

Becoming the Miami of the Caribbean


espite a sluggish local and global economy, distributors in T&T continue to find and exploit growth opportunities. What are they seeing that others are not? Growth opportunities do exist, says David Sobrian, Chief Executive Officer of SuperPharm, a US style pharmacy chain which was started by a group of local entrepreneurs. “Over the last six years the business has established itself as the dominant player in Trinidad’s retail pharmacy landscape with seven locations and store development plans in place to add two stores per year in the Trinidad market,” he stated. “There are opportunities to expand geographically into regions where we are not present. Also, opportunities to provide products and services to the market, which are not currently available. For example, we have piloted the provision of medical testing services at our pharmacies which is a new venture for retail in Trinidad,” he said. Sobrian, one of the founding shareholders of SuperPharm, also highlighted factors that he thought made T&T attractive to businesses wanting to invest in the Distribution sector. He noted that the country had a mature sector with several competent players and a well-educated workforce especially at

38 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

the management level. In addition, costs relative to Miami were lower at all levels and, in the area of technology, T&T has the infrastructure to support business operations at all levels, he said. He identified a specific niche opportunity for T&T as a transshipment centre. “If the goods are fairly heavy, consumer type goods, but quantities are less than container loads, Trinidad could be a suitable location as we still have a number of small vessels which serve the CARICOM markets from our port of Portof-Spain,” Sobrian said. SuperPharm Ltd opened in Trinidad in 2005 and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the publicly owned Agostini’s Ltd Group of Companies. KC Confectionery, a large manufacturer of candy in T&T, sees a wide range of opportunities for a distribution company wishing to set up a business here as its central operations for the Caribbean area. KC Director Ashmeer Mohammed said T&T was a main point in the Caribbean where foreign investors could set up a distribution centre because of its logistical convenience. Noting that this was one of the main reasons that many large multinational companies already operate in T&T, he pointed to Nestle, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Unilever, Johnson and Johnson, and Procter & Gamble as examples of this. T&T is a key link between North America, the Caribbean and South America. The country

Patricia Lewis

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Distribution & Transshipment


also has two ports of entry in Port-of-Spain and Point Lisas and a modern international airport. “We have extremely good shipping links and air connections,” he said. Mohammed also noted that T&T has no foreign exchange restrictions or restrictions on non-citizens owning businesses in the country. He said that opportunities exist for distributors who are involved in many different sectors and who would benefit from the presence in T&T of large supermarkets, American type malls and several distribution super centres. KC Confectionery exports its candy products in the Caribbean, North America, South America, Europe and Asia from its strategic location in Trinidad. Nal Ramsingh, President of the Point Lisas Chamber of Commerce in Central Trinidad, is a distributor who sells sports products throughout the Caribbean. The owner of Ramsingh’s Sports World, he has been in business for over 30 years but became involved in distribution five years ago. Ramsingh buys sports equipment from China, India and Pakistan and brings them to T&T. He then sells throughout the CARICOM region. “It’s cheaper to buy from the Far East than from places like Miami,” he said. He said T&T in many ways is comparable to Miami and in other ways it is much cheaper to set up a distribution centre and warehouses in this country than a place like Miami. “The rent, labour and transportation are all cheaper for a business to operate than if you were to do business in Miami. When I buy from the Far East I stock my warehouse here and then distribute and sell to the other islands,” he said. He pointed out that right now opportunities exist for distributors as businesses are now going to non-traditional regions like Central America to buy goods,

40 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

stocking them in warehouses in T&T and then distributing them throughout the Caribbean area. Another company experiencing success despite a sluggish economy is UNICOMER (Courts), a furniture and appliance chain store with a presence throughout the Caribbean. Courts is growing and expanding and Managing Director Errol Le Blanc said that since 2011 began, they have seen an increase of six per cent in their sales growth over the same period the previous year. “Based on market research, we are the leaders in our sector and this has been the case for nearly 20 years now. We have competitive prices. We have credit debt that is accessible and affordable. We are also aggressive in our marketing,” he added. He boasted that the company had the biggest “footprint in terms of stores” in their industry. There are 20 Courts Stores and about seven Lucky Dollar stores. The Lucky Dollar stores also belong to UNICOMER’s portfolio but aim to capture the lower end of the market. The first one was opened in 2007. Unicomer continues to reinvest and examine expansion opportunities. Its latest Lucky Dollar store opened in February 2011 in Penal and it is looking to open another one along the EastWest Corridor. In addition, Sobrian said they would be rebuilding their super store and largest centre, Courts Megastore. “We are hoping to rebuild our megastore complex. We are waiting on the plans so hopefully we can start this year. The project should be completed in 18 months,” he said. UNICOMER is owned by Regal Forest Holding, an El Salvador-based conglomerate, which is the largest consumer electronics retailer in Central America. Regal acquired UNICOMER in 2006.

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Untapped Potential to be Premier Ecotourism Destination

Courtenay Rooks Naturalist and Adventurer

T&T’s Untapped Potential

to be Premier Ecotourism Destination


rinidad and Tobago has the potential to be the Caribbean’s premier ecotourism destination! And in some ways it is, with world famous eco lodges like The Asa Wright Nature Centre, caves filled with devilbirds and bats, prehistoric turtles nesting in the thousands, lush rainforests, vast wetlands, raucous howler monkeys, and thousands of miles of trails coming together in an overkill of what to do next. Yet we show a poor record of investment in ecotourism. This has stemmed from a lack of understanding of what ecotourism is, how it works, and who is an ecotourism professional. The notion that you “green” a mega resort, or give a hotel a “green” name then it magically becomes ecotourism is preposterous. Developers hear that ecotourism is the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry and think that they will rake in a grossly high return on investment. This sort of lack of knowledge and resulting green washing has led to many failures. Hence, in this article, I intend to educate on what ecotourism really is, where investment opportunities exist and what the return on investment will be. Ecotourism was developed to create a business platform where nationals and locals in rural areas could create truly sustainable businesses that conserve nature while providing 42 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

locals with genuine career paths. The Ecotourism Society defines it in this way: “Ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of the local people.” Certain key components can be seen from these definitions: Responsible travel, nature, conservation, culture, and benefits to local communities. Responsible Travel: This is travel where both the tourist and tourism provider act in a responsible fashion both environmentally and culturally. This responsibility must come from deep within, a real desire to do the right thing from the very start. Nature: The very essence of ecotourism is a natural experience of wild places and wild things. Nature at its glorious best; rain forests, monkeys, birds, reefs, waterfalls in the natural state, not done up for display or improved on is what attracts ecotourists. They buy a birding, mountain biking, or hiking experience, not a hotel or lodge. Conservation: Ecotourists are looking for a destination that is actively engaged in the conservation of the natural areas; planting a few trees does not count! Every material used in construction, how you purchase food, what you do with waste, how energy is used must join efforts to conserve turtles, monkeys, birds or old time Kaiso. The desire to conserve must come from within as it

Stephen Broadbridge

is ever changing and you must constantly create new paths to save. Culture: Real interaction with local peoples, not some native dance done on the deck of a massive cruse ship. Real interaction - staying with them, enjoying an evening at the rum shop, helping them cook a meal, Jab Jab, pan in the pan yard, jouvert, pelau, roti, doubles for breakfast; these are the unique Trini experiences they seek. Chatting with the two teeth Ras is just fine. Benefits local communities: A high percentage of the tourist dollars must go back to the local communities, guides and conservation organisations. Everything, from local investment to tax dollars, must be considered. Beyond the definition, one has to understand the target market - the ecotourist! These are educated people who are driven by passion; they love and enjoy life, all life. They are welltravelled, experienced and know what they want. You cannot fool them, you have to be genuine and provide excellent service. All of this means that ecotourism developments have to be genuine, well thought out and have several bottom lines; not just financial return on investment, but you must help develop the local economy, and have a strong, positive conservation project. A Wall Street type of investment where you get in, make a buck and get out does not work in ecotourism. You have to be in for the long haul for the right reasons.

Now that we know what ecotourism is, the question arises: What makes T&T an excellent ecotourism destination? Simply put, in T&T we offer the perfect mix of South American wilderness and adventure on Caribbean islands that gave the Caribbean its rhythm and the world the art of liming. Lying just seven miles off the coast of South America, Trinidad and sometimes Tobago is connected to the South American Continent during ice ages. Hence, our nature is essentially South American wilderness and geography crammed onto small islands. With more birds than the rest of the Caribbean, rugged mountain ranges with networks of trails for mountain biking or hiking, extensive wetlands and awe inspiring coasts for kayaking – they all combine to create the perfect place for the outdoors enthusiast. Tie that in with blue food, buss-up-shot and pound plantain in a culture that both invented and redefines liming around steel pan, parang and calypso “lyrics to turn a woman’s body into jelly” while discussing another carnival in October. This reality makes one ask: “Why the hell is T&T not a world leader in ecotourism?” That question will resound further on reading the following. Surveys done both by the North American Outdoors Industry Association and the Adventure Travel Trade Association conducted in 2008 to 2010 show that 25% of Americans engage in healthy outdoor activities! Over 66 million go out to view wildlife, 60 Business Trinidad & Tobago • 43

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Untapped Potential to be Premier Ecotourism Destination

Stephen Broadbridge

million cyclists, 50 million hikers, and the list goes on. Birders outnumber and outspend golfers on travel by 10 to one, yet every hotel has to have a golf course. In the USA, one out of every 20 workers is employed in outdoors recreation, more workers are employed in the bicycle industry than the legal industry, and the best statistic is that the combined revenue generated annually by Hollywood and the Pharmaceutical Industry is US$224 million. The Outdoors Industry generates US$289 million per annum and grew by 10 per cent in 2007 and nine per cent in 2008. On the other hand, the sobering statistic is that during the period 2005 to 2010 leisure tourism to T&T fell consistently between 10 to 20 per cent per annum. Some eco businesses were down as much as 90 per cent when comparing 2004 to 2010. T&T needs an effective plan for the marketing of T&T as an eco adventure destination if it is to capitalise on the potential of its ecotourism assets. While other Caribbean and ecotourism destinations have enjoyed strong rebounds after the recession and have surpassed pre 2007 visitor levels, T&T is still well off the mark and its eco businesses are still struggling to recover. With that said, the new Government and the Minister of Tourism have stated that tourism and ecotourism are a cornerstone of their economic diversity drive and positive actions are taking place. However, to revive and drive the ecotourism to its full potential the Minister, the Ministry and TDC must genuinely partner with the ecotourism professionals to brainstorm a strong and positive way forward. So what is the investment potential for ecotourism in Trinidad and Tobago? I highly recommend investment in the sector once you are realistic, genuine and do your homework.

There is a lot of room for more eco lodges and eco tour operators. Several ecotourism projects exist and require investment or a joint venture partner such as The Turtle Village Trust in North East Trinidad. My business, Paria Springs Eco Community, needs investment to develop an ecolodge. There are several small projects such as working with communities to purchase, house and maintain kayaks at Nariva and Caroni Swamps, or to refurbish and maintain trails in many areas. These may seem small but, coupled with lodges and tours, they are significant projects that can have major impacts and strong financial returns. If partnered with community projects, Green Fund support (T&T grant funding) can supplement your investment and make the project a real winner. Investment in ecotourism is exceedingly rewarding enriching you, your family and T&T in ways you cannot envision. So, go for it! Educate yourself and make your investment have a real, sustainable, positive impact on your’s and T&T’s future! Data Sources: The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) The Outdoor Industry Association Useful Links - Green Fund Executing Unit - Ministry of Planning, Housing and the Environment Tel: 623 4663 ext. 2253; 2255; Email: Website: - - - - Business Trinidad & Tobago • 45

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: New Strategies for State Assets Provide Investment Opportunities

Lasana Liburd

New Strategies for State Assets Provide

Investment Opportunities


he Vanguard Hotel and Spa Resort, a luxurious four-star real estate development that occupies 20-acres of beachfront, is destined to be the jewel of Tobago’s tourism-driven economy and is fully owned by the Trinidad and Tobago government. The Vanguard will not belong to local taxpayers for much longer, though. On March 14, 2011, eTecK (Evolving TecKnologies and Enterprise Development Company Ltd) officially closed the tendering process for the hotel and there have been “very positive responses,” according to chairman Jewan Ramcharitar. It was a crucial, early step in the re-invention of a facility that has already cost the government over $300 million and yet remains substantially underutilised. Vanguard is one of several such under-used projects in the twin-island republic. But Ramcharitar is convinced that this facility is destined for a happy ending. “It is a beautiful facility in disrepair and unused,” said Ramcharitar, “and the question was ‘do we go and spend another $150 million to upgrade it and, if we do, what do we do with it after’? “We are not hotel experts. Our goal is to find people and organisations with the right skills to acquire, manage and operate the appropriate companies.” 46 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

ETecK’s role is to create “an environment to stimulate diversification and development of our economy” as Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean’s leading producer of oil and gas, seeks to develop its non-energy sector. It is a goal with a long history of well-meaning failures by successive governments. Ramcharitar only crossed the five-month mark as eTecK chairman in March. Fifty-eight years old, he spent the last 35 years of his life at PricewaterhouseCoopers and was a partner in charge of Trinidad’s management consulting business when he retired from the illustrious professional services firm in June 2010. “The reality is that this country went from the first (oil) boom to the second boom, spent many billions of dollars on public sector initiatives, and yet there is little to show for it,” said Ramcharitar. He rattled off a list of underutilised, unsuccessful or excessively costly projects from ISCOTT and the Dr Eric Williams Financial Complex to the Brian Lara Stadium and the National Oncology Hospital. “It seems to me that the reason we end up with these stranded assets is because we do not have a clear understanding of what we are trying to achieve from investments and how to plan and pursue such undertakings,” said Ramcharitar. “We don’t have

Edison Boodoosingh

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: New Strategies for State Assets Provide Investment Opportunities

a clear understanding of the value and benefits we are trying to achieve from investments.” ETecK has begun salvaging underperforming State assets. In February 2011, eTecK assembled a panel of local entrepreneurs and businessmen to draft a blueprint of the values and benefits that should be present in future investments. By the beginning of March, seven recommendations, including a draft document entitled “Value and Benefits from Investments to Society,” had been developed, Ramcharitar said, but eTecK was not yet ready to go public with further details. Ramcharitar said that the same process used for future investments should be applied, on a case by case basis, to present assets. The Brian Lara Stadium, Tamana Intech Park and National Oncology Hospital seemed to rank high among the list of properties worth saving. “To transform any of the assets, even if they were built 10 or 15 years ago, you still have to come today and examine the values and benefits of what had been attempted,” he said, “and who will be affected by it or can influence the success of it…There is a process for new project development and management and for strategically ranking and choosing the right investment. You cannot take a bad investment idea and make it good… If you have a billion dollars today there is a lot more flexibility and a much greater chance for success than if you tell me ‘here is the Brian Lara Stadium, it is worth a billion dollars, make it a success’… It is not easy.”

The Four Tops (Four T&T facilities open for investment) Vanguard Hotel and Spa Resort - The Vanguard, located 15 minutes from air and sea ports in Tobago, is a four-star realestate development which features 178 ocean-view front rooms with private balconies and an additional 22 executive suites with outdoor jacuzzis and private patios. The Hotel also has a 4,675square foot ballroom with two adjoining meeting rooms, three outdoor pools, gym, spa, six indoor and outdoor dining areas, 1,600 meters of beachfront and an 18-hole championship golf course. The property is situated on 20 acres of real estate and has a combined 7,700 square feet of usable land for possible development in four plots around the facility. Brian Lara Stadium - A multipurpose 15,000-seat stadium in Tarouba that is under construction on 180 acres of land in south Trinidad. It was designed by Hellmuth, Obalat & Kassabum, a US architectural firm, and will comprise an Olympic-sized cycling velodrome and swimming pool, indoor gymnasium, academy for training athletes, a large car park, new roads and other infrastructural works, and four indoor cricket training pitches with computerised biometric technology to measure an athlete’s performance. Patrons will have an unhindered view from every area of the facility, including the concession stand, while the grounds can also facilitate a hotel.

48 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

By Ramcharitar’s own estimation, success stories regarding investment in the non-energy sector have been few and far between for the last 40 years since the introduction of organisations such as Unilever, Nestle, WITCO, Carib and Dunlop. Much of the ventures since have been in the fields of retail and distribution, real estate and the construction sector, which are largely public sector spend-driven. The Vanguard, he hopes, will set the pace for the future and bidders are expected to do more than thump their wallets on the table. There are “very clear” objectives identified by the State agency and interested parties will be judged as much for their vision and business plans as for their financial capabilities. “I think the Vanguard has a very good chance of success,” said Ramcharitar. “But it is not just a question of placing it on the market and leaving its future entirely up to the investors…The value we are trying to achieve is clearly defined and the investor will not be chosen based just on how much money they will pay for the asset, but also on their business plan.” In many ways, the aptly named Vanguard can be the game changer for the new eTecK board. “If you do it right and other people see that, then they want a piece of the action too,” said Ramcharitar. “That is the environment we need to create for investors. We want an environment where 90 per cent of them are successful rather than the way it is at the moment where the opposite is true…Hopefully, we can build momentum through the Vanguard Hotel.”

Tamana Intech Park - The Park covers just under 1,000 acres and offers premier, resource-efficient office accommodation for firms of all sizes while minimising its environmental impact and increasing user productivity and health. It is fourth in size compared to other prominent Science and Technology Parks in the world and boasts advanced ICT infrastructure while it houses one of the first Tier III Data Centres in the Caribbean. Tamana’s sophisticated infrastructure ensures that businesses of all sizes have excellent access to connectivity, security, reliability and convenience. Other features include underground utilities for street lighting, electrical installation, telecommunications and ICT network cabling, potable water and a fire system, a natural gas ring (provided by the National Gas Company), a waste water transmission system, a waste water treatment facility and an electrical sub-station (provided by T&TEC). Civil works related to drainage and road paving are also underway. National Oncology Hospital - A three-storey structure with four radiation treatment bunkers linked to the existing Eric Williams Hospital via walkways and landscaping. The Hospital is intended to provide comprehensive cancer services to 3,000 new patients per year in a beautiful environment, carefully structured to clearly separate ambulatory and in-patient services. In addition to excellent technical care, the Hospital will be a monument to public healthcare and incorporate the most forward thinking trends in oncology centre design, technology, equipment and structure.

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: New Strategies for State Assets Provide Investment Opportunities

Reasons to invest in T&T •

Low Input Costs (Energy, Human Resources Steel, Petrochemicals, Ammonia)

Highest GDP per capita in the Caribbean region

Daily direct flights to major European, North American and South American cities

Ranks in the top 10 for Business Friendliness, Economic Potential and FDI Strategy for the Central American and Caribbean region

Ranks in the top 25% of investment locations worldwide

Market access to 700 million people around the world through various bilateral and multilateral trade agreements.

No foreign exchange controls

Tax treaty with the USA

Located below the hurricane belt

One of the highest literacy rates in the world at 98%

Steady student enrollment increase in engineering, applied technology and science disciplines since 2004

3 major industrial ports

Tropical climate

4 power generating plants

Low cost of living

High Broadband and Fibre-Optic Cable Capacity

Rich & diverse culture

Increasing use of e-commerce and e-services in private and public sector

World-class recreational and sporting facilities - golf courses, water sports, tennis, jogging parks and fitness clubs

Business Trinidad & Tobago • 49

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Waste Disposal: The Challenge & The Opportunity

Marc Sandy Research Economist Trinidad & Tobago Manufacturers’ Association

Waste Disposal:

The Challenge & The Opportunity

50 • Business Trinidad & Tobago


eveloping more energy efficient approaches to conducting business and managing waste are two of the major challenges confronting companies in Trinidad and Tobago. This article will highlight the scope of the waste management challenges that are before us as a country, and point to the investment opportunities that await local and foreign businessmen who are willing to be pioneers in an industry that is expected to be in full bloom within the next decade. Why get into the waste business? Does this industry really have any sustainable value in it for me as a businessman/investor? When one examines the data on waste generation in Trinidad and Tobago, it is clear that the rising levels of waste cannot be attributed solely to production. T&T arguably engages in the highest levels of consumption in the English-speaking Caribbean, ranking higher than Jamaica, Barbados and St. Lucia in terms of waste generated per person (in kilogrammes, per day, according to 2010 data). This presents a mounting challenge for our government to manage. According to the Solid Waste Management Company Ltd (SWMCOL): “Solid waste management, by definition, is the administration, collection, transportation and treatment of solid waste. The ultimate goal of solid waste management is to continuously lower the amount of waste that is generated per capita.” SWMCOL manages and operates three major landfills in Trinidad and Tobago at Beetham, Forres Park and Guanapo. The waste that enters these three landfills can be categorised into rubber, textiles, plastics, metals, glass, paper and organics. More recently, electronic waste or e-waste and vehicles are two major sub-categories for consideration. When one examines vehicle waste alone, SWMCOL data revealed that over 330,000 vehicles entered the three major landfills in 2010, an increase of 43 per cent when compared to the year 2000! This alarming figure, which actually represents a drop from the 2008 and 2009 figures, is only a microcosm of the wider waste picture in Trinidad and Tobago While one can appreciate the heavy challenge (and eventual opportunities) that lie in the management (and hopefully recycling) of vehicle waste in T&T, additional data reveals that an average of 15 per cent of all landfill waste locally is derived from plastics. Our research has revealed that every month, Trinidad and

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Waste Disposal: The Challenge & The Opportunity

Tobago citizens dispose of approximately 60 million Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles alone! This does not include plastics of the High-density polyethylene (HDPE) type, nor does it even begin to consider other categories of waste. In the absence of any integrated waste management plan that takes closed loop recycling into account, our landfills have been overburdened by excess plastic and other types of waste. Much of the waste enters our watercourses and perpetuates the perennial flooding problems that plague our country on an annual basis. The problem is compounded by the fact that “the three landfills have gone past the average 20-year lifespan recommended for operation of a landfill, they operate at low levels of efficiency and pose health and security risks to persons entering and operating within the facilities,” warned Al Binger in his paper entitled: “Economic Opportunities in Waste Management in Small Island States (2011),” prepared for the CSD Intersessional Conference on Building Partnerships for moving towards zero waste, held in February 2011 in Tokyo, Japan. Binger further notes that: “Approximately 1,000 tonnes of waste reach the landfill sites per day” and this relatively high quantity is due to the fact that “Trinidad and Tobago has one of the most diversified and industrialised economies in the Englishspeaking Caribbean, primarily as a result of the country’s reserves of petroleum and natural gas.” By noting that there are few facilities for - and only isolated efforts at - recycling, Binger brings into sharp focus the essence of our conundrum in this twin island state – high and rising volumes of all categories of waste and no sustainable plan for waste diversion, minimisation, reduction or recycling. As an Association, the TTMA believes that there is one core mechanism that will give rise to the emergence of a sustainable industry and provide hope to all budding investors and current and future businessmen that the waste they generate will bring some measure of tangible value to them – the expedient passage in Parliament, and enactment in practice, of the Container Bill, which has been carefully redrafted by sound and deliberate consultation amongst private sector stakeholders. Having recently elected a new Board of Directors at the 55th Annual General Meeting of the TTMA (March 2011) it is our intention that the TTMA will be very forceful in its efforts to ensure that the current national administration brings into legislation a Container Bill that meets the satisfaction of the private sector and the wider national community. While the Container Bill is conceptually focused on the management and recycling of plastic and glass bottles/waste, the

TTMA further envisions that the Bill, in its redrafted form, will encourage and facilitate other types of waste being incorporated into the process. In the interim, however, TTMA wishes to highlight the tremendous work that one enterprising non-governmental organisation – Plastikeep - has done over the last year. Plastikeep has been conceptualised, developed and coordinated by Rosanna Farmer, with the two-fold objective of addressing Trinidad’s mounting problem of plastic waste and educating local citizenry about proper plastic disposal. The Plastikeep project was initiated primarily with the financial support of the Ministry of Housing and Environment through its Green Fund, which has provided the funding for the first phase of the project, which began in May 2010. The genesis of the Plastikeep project lies in the fact that, at present, there is no system in Trinidad and Tobago that allows for the collection of separated plastics from the general public. Plastikeep has, therefore, taken up the initiative in forming the first local, non-governmental entity to contribute toward plastic waste reduction, albeit on a small scale initially. The project was launched as a Pilot Project within the Diego Martin Regional Corporation (DMRC). While Plastikeep is an NGO, there are also several commercial businesses engaged in recycling plastics, paper and glass. The strongest sector within the local recycling industry appears to be plastics, and this augurs well for the future of the industry, given that plastics make the highest contribution to overall waste in T&T. These local players in recycling provide lucid and encouraging signs of an industry with great potential. However, their total production levels, when compared with the high volumes of waste generated, remind us that recycling in Trinidad and Tobago is in its embryonic phase. At this juncture, their efforts have made it clear to us as an Association that the local recycling industry only awaits sound legislation to really bloom. Investors can rest assured that the volumes of high and rising waste, the scale of production and consumption, as well as the strong infrastructural base in T&T provide an ideal climate within which recycling initiatives will begin to blossom, once appropriate policies and incentives are in place. With the TTMA doing its part to take care of the latter, now is the time for investors to get a head start on what promises to be a highly financially viable industry in the medium-term. INVEST IN T&T – WHY WASTE…. TIME?

TABLE 1: Vehicle Waste entering the Beetham, Forres Park and Guanapo landfills YEAR Total Annual No. of Vehicles Monthly Average No. of Vehicles Daily Average No. of Vehicles Total Estimated Annual Tonnes Monthly Average Tonnes Daily Average Tonnes

2000 231,664 19,305 633 423,742 35,312 1,158

2001 199,785 16,649 547 378,784 31,565 1,038

2002 223,696 18,641 613 424,984 35,415 1,164

2008 392,675 32,723 1,076 633,871 52,823 1,737

2009 398,881 33,240 1,093 629,414 52,451 1,724

2010 331,156 27,596 907 501,954 41,830 1,375

SOURCE: Solid Waste Management Company Ltd (SWMCOL).

52 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

The most affordable alternative to Conventional Financing!


his option has been provided locally by the Caribbean Leasing Company Ltd (CLCL) since 2001. What is this, you ask? Well, as the company name above suggests, it is a Lease, a Financial Lease to be exact. In the simplest of terms, leasing is the process whereby an individual or firm (a lessee) pays a rent to another entity (a lessor/ CLCL) for the economic use of capital goods such as machinery, or any other type of equipment. Leasing allows businesses the opportunity to purchase an asset, once the business is able to prove that it can repay the lease and meet the monthly rentals. The asset then forms the collateral for the CLCL’s Lease Financing Facility, which represents a shift away from Collateral Based Lending to Cash Flow Lending. Often Banks will not lend money against only the asset to be purchased. Banks usually require additional collateral, such as real estate etc, from the borrower. However, with a Finance Lease from CLCL only the asset is taken as collateral; as such, it is possible to access up to 70 – 90 per cent financing (based on risk) for investment in equipment and working capital. Since companies may not necessarily have access to collateral to secure bank financing on a regular basis, leasing provides a means by which companies can access equipment without having to put a significant amount of resources out of pocket. Companies can, therefore, expand effectively through leasing as they need not burden themselves with huge debts while they operate. CLCL’s interest rates are lower than that of the Financial Institutions even though the rate charged is based on the risk. Our payment terms are fixed and therefore do not vary with fluctuations in interest rates. We can also offer our clients flexible payment terms especially for those businesses that have seasonal income; allowing Cash Flow efficiency and maintaining credit worthiness. CLCL facilitates the entire procurement process – local or foreign – including shipping, handling, insurance, delivery, calibration etc. Very few businesses will have the staff or the time to execute this process. This relieves the business of unnecessary stress, which is often invaluable. These additional

direct costs can also be added to the value of the lease and amortised over the life of the lease, therefore, no extra upfront payments. CLCL works with the client to effectively maintain the assets and provide the requisite insurance coverage – All risk, Vehicle, Term life and Public Liability. At the end of the lease term the client has the option to purchase the asset at a percentage of the lease value, which is usually far below the market value of the asset at that time. Leasing with CLCL is, therefore, a highly suitable option for the funding of all types of assets, from manufacturing plant and machinery to medical and dental equipment, inclusive of vehicles for transport and delivery. The asset to be acquired must be essential or have direct impact on the earning capacity of the business. At the macro level, leasing can also assist in national development by increasing the competitiveness of the business sector. As a financial tool, it does this by allowing companies to access the latest technology and equipment available with minimum outlay. Access to the most advanced production methods and processes means that companies experience much higher levels of efficiency and productivity (and hence, profitability) at earlier stages of their development, than if they had attempted to access bank financing. The aggregate effect of companies in the non-energy sector utilising lease financing within the local economy means that the sector can become more competitive, and generate employment. Enhanced production from this sector can then drive Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, resulting in improved standards of living nationally. In a nutshell, therefore, leasing can be seen as essential for development simply because it provides an easy way for companies to access financing. This not only enables businesses to be more productive, but positions them more favourably in terms of global competitiveness. The enhanced success of the business sector can then facilitate economic diversification as companies are able to offer more products and services to consumers. Leasing can thus be seen as a powerful tool in the process of development. A Financial Lease is the epitome of borrowing efficiency. Are you borrowing efficiently?

Business Trinidad & Tobago • 55

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: The Wholesale Banker of the English-Speaking Caribbean

Angus P. Young BA, Acc Dip. Managing Director Young & Associates Limited

Trinidad & Tobago The Wholesale Banker of the English-Speaking Caribbean


ou may have an interest in using Wholesale Banking services or investing in it. Either way, if your geographical interest is Caribbean centric, early enquiries will point you towards the Trinidad & Tobago Banking Sector. Trinidad & Tobago is the ‘go to’ place for Wholesale Banking services in the Caribbean, like Switzerland is the ‘go to’ place for Private Banking in Europe. My mandate is to share with you how the Trinidad & Tobago Banking Sector became the hub of Wholesale Banking services in the Caribbean region, and to offer some factual insight into the sector’s capabilities. These resources and opportunities are available to all, whether the interest is local or foreign, or as a user or investor. More likely than not, every island in the English-speaking Caribbean has a “brick and mortar” type presence of several commercial banks, both of indigenous and foreign origin. Nonetheless, when stakeholders in the region require Wholesale Banking services, they typically turn to the Trinidad & Tobago Banking Sector. Wholesale Banking may be defined as, “Banking services which (in contrast to retail banking) are offered only to government agencies, pension funds, other institutional customers and to corporations with strong balance sheets and sound income statements. These services include cash management, fleet and equipment leasing, large-sum loans,

56 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

loan participation, merchant banking, and trust services.” ( Furthermore, Wholesale Banking refers to financial services which are conducted between financial services companies and institutions such as banks, insurers, fund managers, and stockbrokers. Modern Wholesale Banks are engaged in finance wholesaling, underwriting, market making, consultancy, mergers and acquisitions, and fund management. Wholesale Banking services are usually only made available to credible Sovereigns and top tier corporate entities and projects. The service involves large transactions (in this region, probably not less than the equivalent of US$5 million) and parties that have impeccable reputations and proven track records. To be successful in Wholesale Banking, an institution must have, as a bare minimum, the following three major resources: (1) the appropriate intellectual capital (2) access to funding above and beyond the bank’s balance sheet and (3) institutional willingness. The Trinidad & Tobago-based banks that offer Wholesale Banking usually facilitate the service via their Capital Markets Desks. Each bank would have a relatively small team (when compared to the human resources required for their retail, commercial and corporate baking teams) who are physically based in Trinidad but who travel the wider Caribbean region in pursuit of opportunities. These travelling officers are often referred to as Suitcase Bankers. Over the years, these Suitcase Bankers have developed a reputation of being proactive and, in so being, they make

Why Choose T&T: The Wholesale Banker of the English-Speaking Caribbean

themselves present extra regionally, waiting to put together the next deal or transaction. As such, more often than not, those desiring Wholesale Banking services would rarely have had to initiate their request by physically visiting Trinidad in search of the service. Nonetheless, whether stakeholders physically come to Port of Spain seeking funding, their needs are facilitated by teams who belong to banks that are based in Trinidad & Tobago, banks that have the appropriate intellectual capital, access to funding above and beyond their balance sheets, and a willingness to put these deals together - the three key success factors mentioned earlier. Over the last 15 years, Trinidad-based banks (of both indigenous and foreign origin) have developed a fierce reputation as the English-speaking Caribbean’s Wholesale Bankers. Trinidadbased banks have arranged funding for almost all of the Englishspeaking Caribbean Sovereigns. The regional governments have looked towards the Trinidad & Tobago Banking Sector to fund their public sector investment programmes, fiscal budgets, statutory authorities, sea and air ports, utility providers etc. In very much the same way, private investors have also sought the Trinidad & Tobago Banking Sector to fund projects such as green field and mature telecommunications projects, hospitality developments, massive local and foreign currency debt restructurings and million dollar university campus expansions. Trinidad & Tobago’s Banking Sector has arranged hundreds of millions of United States dollars worth of funding for the Governments of Jamaica, Turks & Caicos, the Cayman Islands, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana and Aruba. In similar fashion, Trinidad & Tobago’s Banking Sector has arranged multicurrency million dollar funding for massive highway and utility infrastructure projects in Jamaica, St. Lucia, Grenada, St. Vincent, and the Dominican Republic. Other instances include massive telecommunications projects in Jamaica, the Eastern

58 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

Caribbean and even in the Dutch speaking islands. Where Air and Sea Ports are concerned, the Trinidad & Tobago Banking Sector has financed the Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten, the Maurice Bishop International Airport in Grenada, and Seaports in St. Maarten and St. Kitts. The Trinidad & Tobago Banking Sector has also been in the forefront of some of the region’s largest private acquisitions, financing, for example, the acquisition of Jamaica-based distiller Lascelles DeMercado, the acquisition of Shell International’s expansive retail operation in Jamaica and the acquisition (by El Salvadorians) of the Courts furniture operations throughout the Caribbean region. The keen reader would have noticed that while this article is entitled, “Trinidad & Tobago – Wholesale Bankers of the Englishspeaking Caribbean,” some of the countries mentioned above are actually Dutch, French and Spanish-speaking. So, while it is true that the Trinidad & Tobago Banking Sector has a firm grip on the English-speaking Caribbean, its reach has encompassed bilingual territories like Aruba, St. Maarten, and the Dominican Republic and, recently, has extended even further into Central America. This is evidenced by the financing of a 40MW Hydroelectric project in Costa Rica named Hidroenergia del General (US$100 million), a 94MW Hidroxacbal plant in Guatemala, and financing of the only port in Costa Rica under private concession, Port of Caldera. Via its Wholesale Banking services, the Trinidad & Tobago Banking Sector continues to not only service the Caribbean Region, but to push into territories beyond their “brick and mortar” presence. Young & Associates Ltd is a regional Professional Financial Services firm whose focus is on Corporate Finance and Transaction Advisory, Consulting and Brokerage. You can contact Angus Young at

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: ICT in T&T: Meeting the Needs of International Investors

Khaleel Ali Manager - Enterprise Sales Illuminat (Trinidad & Tobago) Ltd. Communication Business Unit

ICT in T&T

Meeting the Needs of International Investors


oes Trinidad & Tobago have what it takes to meet the Information & Communications Technology (ICT) needs of a potential international investor? Quoting Commander Data (Star Trek), the response should be “Indubitably.” As an oil and gas-based economy since the 1960s, many of the multinational companies brought technology with them to T&T, as well as the professional services to install it. Knowledge transfer took place over the next two decades, bringing locals up to the required international standard, which eventually saw a fully local-supported technology industry. Trinidad & Tobago is therefore quite ahead of all its Caribbean neighbours in this regard. From an education standpoint, Trinidad & Tobago is home to a number of Government-supported and private institutions offering various degree courses in support of the ICT sector, including programmes in Computer Sciences and various Engineering disciplines. Overall, these have produced some 500 graduates per annum over the last five years. In addition to this, many vendor-specific certifications are offered locally with exams available from local institutions. Examples of these are Cisco CCNA and Microsoft MCSE. As a highly industrialised society with a population of 1.3 million people, we are fiercely competitive in the ICT sector. The threat of globalisation made local ICT companies more efficient and now these companies are on par with their United States counterparts for competence, delivery of service and responsiveness. While there is no empirical data to support this, this is the feedback from major multinationals operating locally. There may be some challenges with certain proprietary skills, as well as meeting some Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), however, some companies are on the path of adhering to ITIL and ISO standards and certifications. Of the 25-plus companies operating in various subsectors of the ICT environment, about eight can be considered to be major players in the region or internationally. Somewhere along the line, Information Technology and Communications were joined at the hip, perhaps due to the terminology known as “Convergence.” We do, however, need to separate IT from Communications as they have different paths of development that are worthy of mention. Business Trinidad & Tobago • 61

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: ICT in T&T: Meeting the Needs of International Investors

Trinidad & Tobago is undoubtedly a society capable of supporting the technology needs of any potential investor. The Communications infrastructure is well-developed for the transport of any data that one might want to send and receive locally or internationally, and developed IT systems are widely available to support modern requirements.

While full deregulation in the Communications industry only took place in the late 1990s, much of it started happening in the 1980s, firstly in the Enterprise space. The average Enterprise customer, who now had a choice of vendors for services previously supplied by the monopoly, would begin researching the various options and make a choice based on competitive capabilities against the price tag. Following this Enterprise communications choice, with market deregulation, the Enterprise customer would now have a choice of service providers which has grown to four distinct options in as little as 10 years offering both local and international trunk connections. Additionally, there are other vendors who offer local Wide Area Network (WAN) connectivity within T&T’s borders. Enterprise communications solutions with a number of competing providers include, just to name a few, the following: - IP and SIP Telephony/PBX - Certified Category 6 and 6A Structured Cabling using TIA/ EIA 568B/C standards - Advanced Switching & Routing - Wireless LANs The more established local providers and integrators will also provide full certification credentials to confirm their capability. In the wider communications environment, all the latest, including 3G, transmission technologies exist. Some of these are: - ISDN-PRI - Metro-Ethernet - Wimax (Wireless) - SIP Connectivity - Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) - Mobile Internet

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Rates are quite competitive and the choice of technologies is sure to meet every requirement. Private network and Internet bandwidths (throughputs) can achieve up to 10 Mbps. With some private data radio solutions, achieving around 50 Mbps is a possibility, if required. 4G is probably less than a year away. In the IT sphere, IBM ruled the roost in the early days, as it did everywhere else in the world. Over the last 10 to 15 years though, with the rapid change in server technology, many companies took advantage of faster speeds and increased efficiencies. Corporate Trinidad & Tobago began demanding the latest technology, following the USA in building data centres, although on a smaller scale. Various local companies now offer Co-Location Services and Disaster Recovery Sites to compliment data centres. Some companies offer network monitoring, even down to the desktop. Trinidad & Tobago is on the verge of embracing “Cloud” technology as well as “Software-as-a-Service” (SaaS). Many major vendors have certified local resellers in-country. These vendors include (in alphabetical order): - Avaya/Nortel - Cisco - HP/3Com - IBM - Microsoft - Oracle/Sun Microsystems Trinidadian and Tobagonians, while reluctant at first, have fully embraced mobile technology. With the proliferation of cellular telephones, Blackberries and I-Phones, all of Trinidad & Tobago is talking, texting, emailing and “apping” on the go. Mobility now includes extending the enterprise environment to the mobile device, integrating many day-to-day office functions

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: ICT in T&T: Meeting the Needs of International Investors

while travelling in-country or overseas. I always use my “cellular extension,� as it allows my customers to keep in touch with me even if I travel to Barbados, Jamaica or even the US. Mobile Commerce was recently introduced so paying bills and transferring money while on the move is available. Internet penetration is still somewhat low, perhaps because of geography, but the infrastructure connecting back to the worldwide web is well-developed. There are multiple connections coming out of Trinidad via fibre and satellite from major international carriers including AT&T and Sprint, as well as a number of other local companies who offer competing services. Last mile connections can be delivered by copper, fibre or wirelessly, now with a greater demand for streaming content than ever. While slow to adopt, Trinbagonians are installing various video technologies, including HD Video Conferencing and Megapixel Video Surveillance. Local providers are quite proficient in installing video conferencing with infrastructure support

available on the various IP network providers. Centralised video monitoring for surveillance is available from both traditional security providers and IP technology solution providers. So, after all this high-tech, how about some older technology? There is still a need for Two-way Radio in Trinidad & Tobago. There are two types, conventional VHF and Trunked. While Trunked radios are the better and more reliable technology, both systems offer near-Islandwide coverage; and, if you really have nostalgia, you can still get a pager. In summary, Trinidad & Tobago is undoubtedly a society capable of supporting the technology needs of any potential investor. The Communications infrastructure is well-developed for the transport of any data that one might want to send and receive locally or internationally, and developed IT systems are widely available to support modern requirements. Be assured, as well, that if you do decide to come to our small islands, the technology also exists to see the next Star Trek movie in 3D.

Business Trinidad & Tobago • 63

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Labour & Legislation in T&T

Lara Quentrall-Thomas CEO - Regency Recruitment Ltd

Labour & Legislation in T&T Having worked in Trinidad and Tobago as a recruiter and HR consultant for the past 15 years, I know our labour pool offers many highly qualified, experienced professionals. There is a well-established culture of continuous learning, enhanced by State-sponsored tertiary education, frequent professional training conferences and seminars, and the presence of international educational institutes. Whilst there is ongoing competition for top talent, it is my experience that multinational companies (MNCs) are considered preferred employers, providing wide scope for development, training and travel. The MNCs operating here typically offer competitive compensation packages, including above average salaries. One area of concern is the challenges faced by workers in balancing work and family life, particularly in light of the increasingly challenging traffic situation in the capital city - Port of Spain. Employers are well advised to consider providing multiple solutions to enhance worker productivity, such as flexi-time, homework facilities or job sharing. We are considerably progressive when it comes to Labour legislation. Born out of worker struggles and closely watched by powerful, vocal trade unions, our Labour laws are routinely updated in accordance with best practices. The Ministry of Labour implements strategies for the labour sector and, through the Labour Inspectorate Unit, monitors adherence. All workers have the right to take grievances to a union, whether the company is unionised or not. This can lead to mediation at the Ministry of Labour or judgment by the Industrial Court. I recommend that all firms familiarise themselves with laws pertaining to their specific industry, including the duties

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and responsibilities of both employer and employee. There are many instances when foreign firms fail to take industrial relations protocols into account and end up spending hours in court and paying hefty claims. Some key pieces of legislation that employers must comply with are: Industrial Relations Act (IRA) The primary legislation governing relationships between workers and employers, the IRA provides for: • free collective bargaining between employer and workers through representative associations • development of a peaceful and expeditious procedure for settlement of disputes • establishment of the Industrial Court • recognition and registration of trade unions • freedom to be represented by a trade union and the right not to associate • industrial action, which may be taken by both employer and employee Minimum Wages Although there is specific minimum wage legislation for catering, security, domestic workers and retail workers, all others are covered by the Minimum Wages Act. The minimum wage is TT$12.50 per hour (approximately US$2). However, as most MNCs pay well above the minimum wage, the Act rarely applies, but it provides useful guidelines for calculating overtime, setting standards for vacation and sick leave, etc.

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Labour & Legislation in T&T

Maternity Protection This Act provides that a worker may take up to 13 weeks paid leave for the purpose of pregnancy and is entitled to return to work on no less favourable terms than when she left. The worker must: - have been employed for one (1) year at the date of confinement - provide written notice of her intention to take leave at least eight (8) weeks before commencing leave - provide medical verification of her condition - state her intention to return to work The worker is entitled to one (1) month’s full pay and two (2) months half-pay leave provided by the employer, with the balance funded by National Insurance contributions. Retrenchment and Severance This Act prescribes the procedures to be followed in the event of redundancy and to provide severance payments to retrenched workers, with some exceptions. Where an employer proposes to terminate the services of five or more workers for the reason of redundancy, he must give notice in writing to each involved worker, the recognised majority union and the Minister of Labour, 45 days prior to the retrenchment date. The union or Minister may attempt to find alternate solutions, and the onus is on the employer to prove that redundancy is the only viable option. Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) This legislation evolved from the Factory Inspection Legislation inherited from the UK and insists that it is the duty of every employer to ensure, as far as is reasonable, the safety, health and welfare of all employees. It is a comprehensive piece of legislation that clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of both employer and employee, and penalties for failure to comply. The T&T Occupational Safety and Health Authority (www. is the enforcing body of the OSH regulation. It is vested with legal powers for inspectors to access industrial establishments, require information needed to carry out investigations, and exercise intervention powers. The inspectors operate in six sub-units: • Oil and gas • Ports, chemical and petrochemical industry • General manufacturing • Construction and quarries • Agriculture and services • Occupational health

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Workmen’s Compensation This Act provides for benefits to employees (or their dependents) who suffer disability or death by, or as a result of, injury or disease arising out of, or due to, the nature of their employment. Most notable for employers is the requirement for compulsory insurance. Equal Opportunity This Act prohibits certain kinds of discrimination, promotes equality of opportunity between persons of different status, and establishes an Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) and Tribunal. It focuses on discrimination in relation to employment, education, and provision of goods, services and accommodation. In the Act, a person shall not publicly do any act which:- is reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of persons - is done because of the gender, race, ethnicity, origin or religion of the other person or of some or all of the persons in the group - is done with the intention of inciting gender, racial or religious hatred. Part 3 of the Act speaks to discrimination in employment and makes it very clear not only what an employer should and should not do, but also the redress available to aggrieved workers. The EOC began operating in early 2010 and already has received more than 200 complaints of discrimination. However, this should not be a concern once MNCs comply with their own stated commitments to non-discrimination. Closing Comments Employing a Trinidad and Tobago workforce is not without hurdles, but once employers comply with the law, and treat staff equitably, penalties can easily be avoided. Offering innovative solutions to enable staff to balance family and work responsibilities will also go a long way to ensuring you are viewed as an employer of choice. Useful Websites Ministry of Labour: Employers Consultative Association: ILO Trinidad office: ifpdial/info/national/tt.htm For assistance with recruitment and payroll for local workers -Regency Recruitment:

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Getting Ready to Take On The World

Getting Ready to Take On The World


etting Ready to Take on The World – that is the concept driving the implementation of TTBizLink, a joint initiative of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and CrimsonLogic of Singapore, which began in December 2009.

TTBizLink is a type of IT-platform known as a Single Electronic Window (SEW), designed to facilitate trade. The process is quite simple – companies/individuals who wish to import/export goods, apply for permits, licences, or any other trade-related activity simply submit a single e-document online at the proposed website. The document is then routed to the various government agencies responsible for approvals and within a few days the request is processed. There are eight core government business services or modules provided by TTBizLink. Any company wishing to utilise these services must register online. TTBizLink Modules:Permits & Licences – This service allows exporters/importers to apply for trade permits and licenses from the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s (MTI) Trade Licence Unit, Ministry of Food Production Land and Marine Affairs’ Chief Veterinary Officer & Plant Quarantine Division, and the Ministry of Health’s Chemistry, Food and Drug Division. Import Duty Concession - Clients seeking import duty concessions from the government will be able to complete the

necessary application forms and upload supporting documents online utilising this service. Cargo Manifest - The Manifest service enables Shipping Lines and Shipping Agents to prepare and submit cargo manifest data to the Ports and Customs. Users will have the option to key in manifest information or upload a manifest document in XML file format. The Ports and Customs will receive the data through a secure system-to-system link. Goods Declaration - The Goods Declaration service enables Customs Brokers to prepare and submit cargo declaration data and supporting documents to the approving agencies online. The approved declaration will be transmitted to Customs through a secure system-to-system link. Company Registration - The Company Registration service will enable online submission and tracking of business registration and company incorporation applications/documents to the Registrar General Department, Ministry of Legal Affairs. This service will also enable an online name search and application for name reservation. Applications for a BIR Number for the purpose of business registration will also be available through this service. Certificate of Origin -The Certificate of Origin (CO) service allows exporters/brokers to apply for COs issued by the Business Development Company Ltd or Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TTCIC) using the online application form. Exporters can also track CO application status and preregister with the BDC or TTCIC. Business Trinidad & Tobago • 69

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Getting Ready to Take On The World

Tanya Carr

Application for Fiscal Incentives - Through this service, companies seeking fiscal incentives will submit the necessary application forms and upload supporting documents online to MTI. The application status can be tracked and approvals printed online. Work Permit Applications - The Work Permit Application service enables companies/businesses, agencies and individuals to electronically submit Work Permit applications to the Ministry of National Security (MNS) Work Permit Secretariat. More than just an IT solution, TTBizLink is an entire national change management process that will modernise the way companies connect with government agencies in the process of conducting business and trade. TTBizLink will revolutionise the way trade and business are conducted in Trinidad and Tobago. No longer will there be a need for multiple forms and repeated trips to several different agencies. Transactions will be conducted online simultaneously and smoothly. Benefits - How will TTbizLink impact business? For business operators and investors, the benefits of this new system include:• Greater operational efficiency • Increase in the speed of trade and business facilitation • Provision of vital, timely information to support more efficient business-to-business transactions and investment decisions • Sharpening the competitive edge of companies and industries.

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How will TTBizLink impact government agencies? • At the governmental level, the project involves significant co-operation amongst a range of Ministries and agencies responsible for business/trade facilitation • Because of its interactive nature, the new system requires major business process re-engineering for these various agencies. • Co-ordination amongst the various government agencies will improve • Data collection – real time trade data According to Trade and Industry Minister, Stephen Cadiz: “TTBizLink will reduce the time for processing of trade related applications from 15 to 30 days to one week and eventually two to three days. This will enhance the competitiveness of our businesses and make Trinidad and Tobago an even more attractive place for business and investment.” While registration is ongoing, the system is not yet fully operational. Full system rollout will take place between March to June 2011. MTI is excited to introduce this dynamic new IT solution, which will greatly improve the speed at which business is conducted in T&T and enhance our overall global competitiveness. Contact Information:Website:-; Phone:- 800-4739

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Here to Stay… Reinvesting in T&T

Darren Farfan

Here to Stay Reinvesting in T&T


otential investors will be encouraged by the lasting presence and long-term commitment of local and multinational businesses who continue to reinvest in their operations in Trinidad & Tobago. The presence of long-established global names in T&T such as BP, BG, BHP, Fujitsu, Royal Bank of Canada and many others testify to the valuable assets already invested here. These prestigious international firms are complemented on the ground by a steadfast cadre of local businesses and regional investors positioning themselves to capitalise on T&T’s ongoing economic rebound. There are clear signs that many businesses have turned adversity into opportunity. From expanding shopping malls and new distribution centres, to gleaming head offices and new investments in manufacturing technology, established businesses are demonstrating their confidence in the T&T economy by reinvesting to take advantage of existing and upcoming opportunities. While certainly not immune, the local economy has shown considerable resilience to the adverse effects of the global financial crisis. After two years of decline, according to estimates from the Central Statistical Office, the local economy recorded positive growth of around two per cent in 2010. This modest growth was largely attributable to higher than budgeted energy revenues, a sharp decline in government spending, and prudent fiscal management throughout the second half of 2010. As the central government’s fiscal position continues to improve, and spending resumes, it is anticipated that the local economy will continue to grow over the near term. Indeed, social and economic indicators suggest that economic activity will gain momentum during the second half of 2011 as confidence grows

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and market expansion initiatives take hold. Simon Aqui, President of the American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AmCham) confirmed that “we have seen a return in confidence in the energy sector with the completion of the shallow water bid round which attracted six bids, and the ongoing deepwater bid round which attracted five bids; including bids from BP, Niko Resources and a consortium of BHP Billiton/Repsol/Total.” The head of AmCham, an organisation that represents over 300 private sector companies, added that, “this signals a renewed investor confidence in exploration activity in Trinidad and Tobago’s deepwater acreage. We are also seeing a return to activity, including increased drilling and seismic surveys.” This will certainly be welcome news and provide a boost of confidence for investors and local businesses that directly and indirectly benefit from the foreign capital inflows associated with the energy sector. While discussing the local investment climate with Republic Bank Ltd’s Ronald Ramkissoon, the senior economist remarked that while the bank’s demand for domestic commercial borrowing was down, “we have experienced a positive growth of our mortgage portfolio by around five per cent over last year. This indicates that investors are taking advantage of opportunities afforded by lower interest rates and a softening of real estate prices.” Indeed, there is evidence of considerable reinvestment into commercial real estate projects within recent times. In the past year, extensive upgrades were completed at well-established shopping centres around the country, including The Falls at Westmall in Westmoorings, Gulf City Mall in the southland, Trincity Mall in the East, and the Price Plaza North Expansion in the burgeoning central borough of Chaguanas. Also, in mid2010, the multinational shopping chain, Pricesmart, opened their

Patricia Lewis

Stephen Broadbridge

fourth warehouse-style membership store in South Trinidad in recognition of a strengthening consumer sentiment. This increasing consumer confidence is also evident through the proliferation of recognised American restaurant franchises throughout the country. The success of established brands such as KFC, Pizza Hut, T.G.I. Friday’s and Subway has prompted the introduction of a number of new competitors into this lucrative market. Newcomers such as Wendy’s and Pollo Tropical have already begun to taste the rewards of the T&T market’s seemingly insatiable hunger for foreign fare. Significant investments continue to be made in the financial services sector as well. A prime and very evident example of this is the newly established RBC regional head office in St Clair, Port of Spain. The establishment and continued development of this distinguished bank has brought added esteem to a prestigious regional financial centre already home to global powerhouses PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and KPMG as well as a number of international agencies such as the Inter-American Development Bank and United Nations Development Programme. Switching focus to the hospitality sector, Cornell Buckradee, Manager of the Investment Promotion Department at the Tourism Development Company Ltd (TDC), said that he remains “optimistic about public and private sector investment into the islands’ tourism industry.” In summarising recent activity in the sector, Buckradee advised that “construction of the 140-room Star Hotel in Piarco is well-advanced. This immediately follows the completion of the new wing of Cara Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Claxton Bay which added 50 new rooms and enhanced their room stock by 100%.” Buckradee added that, “plans continue to progress for the development of an internationally-branded hotel on Ariapita Avenue. Moreover, reinvestment in plant, an accurate indicator of investor confidence, has been undertaken at the Hilton Trinidad to the extent of approximately US$34 million and upgrade works have been undertaken at several of the more prominent medium– sized hotels such as Kapok and the Courtyard by Marriott. In Tobago, based on the recently advertised Request for Proposals, it is likely that Vanguard Hotel will resume operations around the 4th quarter 2011.”

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Investment activity has not been limited to lavish shopping malls, modern commercial buildings and luxurious hotels. The manufacturing industry has also witnessed a number of substantial investments into innovative process technology by forward thinking businesses seeking to increase their market reach and competitive advantage. Mr. Greig Laughlin, director and immediate past president of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) revealed that, “a number of well-established local manufacturing firms have made disciplined and calculated investments into plant, systems and people.” While highlighting the TTMA membership’s focus on the development of ‘green’ and ‘high-tech’ industries, Laughlin shared examples of specific investments into robotic and automated production systems made by indigenous organisations such as KC Confectionary and TYE Manufacturing Company Ltd. The automated system put into place by TYE, declared Laughlin, “is the first of its kind in the region and certainly the most advanced in T&T.” Commissioned in the first quarter of 2010, TYE’s robotic system symbolises the level of investment being made into advanced technology within T&T’s manufacturing industry. According to Robert Tang Yuk, Managing Director of TYE Manufacturing, “the automation is unique in that it creates a customisable and flexible manufacturing system managed by software, and capable of running multiple jobs even in ‘lights out’ shifts. The technology gives us the ability to focus on our customers’ specifications and gives the company a unique value proposition. This significant investment opens up opportunities in North America and helps us towards our vision to be specialist sheet metal product developers for the world.” These ambitious words essentially capture the enterprising spirit and dogged determination demonstrated by T&T’s established businesses and industry. The commitment and continued success of these established enterprises certainly bodes well for the islands’ future. With its solid asset base, growing investor confidence and emerging market opportunities, Trinidad and Tobago is once again poised for economic resurgence and investment promise.

Patricia Lewis

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: EmbassyPerspective: Doing Business in T&T

Kay Baldeosingh-Arjune Editor BT&T

Embassy Perspective Doing Business in T&T


ome 47 countries, interested in strengthening trade, investment and diplomatic ties with Trinidad and Tobago, have established a physical presence in the country by way of embassies and high commissions. They serve as a major conduit of information to their own citizens who want to know about business opportunities and the advantages and challenges of locating a business here. Diplomatic representatives of seven of these countries shared their perspective with Business Trinidad & Tobago, telling us what they see as the investment opportunities here and what they tell their citizens about the business environment. They all highlighted investment opportunities in infrastructural development, especially transportation and highways; carbon capture and storage; renewable energies; information technology (IT); and using T&T as a regional hub to access markets in the Caribbean and Latin America. Positive attributes highlighted included a highly educated workforce, English-speaking population and open investment climate. Two concerns centred around crime and personal security and slow processing of applications for special concessions.

Canadian Perspective Canada sees many interesting business opportunities in Trinidad and Tobago for Canadian firms, says Frédéric Fournier, Counsellor (Commercial) & Senior Trade Commissioner at the High Commission of Canada in Trinidad & Tobago. These include opportunities in oil and gas – both in services and exploration and production; carbon capture and storage, wind and solar energy technologies, CNG cars and highway development. Overall, the High Commission’s message to interested investors is: “Numerous interesting business opportunities exist in Trinidad and Tobago, in different sectors of the industry. The country, as the most industralised in the Caribbean, can be used as a regional hub should you be interested in establishing a regional presence. And there are longstanding relations between Canada and Trinidad and Tobago which make this a friendly environment for Canadians in general. However, there are a few elements to be considered before making the decision to invest in Trinidad, he added. These are: that the high crime situation may impose additional business costs and affect the quality of life for employees, heavy bureaucracy makes all processes slower than Canadian standards, possibility of some payment delays when dealing with government agencies. Business Trinidad & Tobago • 77

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: EmbassyPerspective: Doing Business in T&T

French Perspective The French Embassy in T&T sees more emphasis being placed on “joint ventures or consortia between medium-sized companies which would work either with the State (Public-PrivatePartnerships) or independently, in the areas of diversification prioritised by the Administration.” It sees opportunities for French companies with international experience in construction and civil works, the environment (including water treatment and distribution and solid waste collection and management), transportation, and energy, through PPPs but noted that: “This framework must be more clearly defined and presented by the Administration.” The Embassy added: “Since the 19th century, France is in fact a pioneer in PPPs or Delegated Management Contracts, an increasingly significant option for the sustainable development of social and physical infrastructure (transport, public utilities, etc).” It also saw opportunities for financial services (financial advisers and project financing) for medium and large projects and in the IT sector, in terms of manufacturing and provision of services, but noted that “the official policy towards the potential foreign investor seems more in favour of manufacturing plants than service providers.” The Embassy’s advice to French investors about T&T is that: “There is a good level of political, financial and economic stability with a work force that is generally well-trained at the higher levels and open to new or different ways of working. Competitive utilities costs can contribute to competitive production costs. An investor in TT has access to the regional markets as well as to the North America (USA and Canada) and the European Union, for many products. Notwithstanding the size of the country, there is a fairly wide range of recreational and entertainment options. There are good air travel connections between T&T and North America and the UK, but less so between T&T and France.” It also advised that: “more and more, personal safety issues must be factored into the process, if not for the foreign investor directly at least for local staff…this concern also impacts on choice and cost of accommodation as well as security measures to be put into place and maintained.” The Embassy also noted that: “The local market is very price sensitive and, with few exceptions (in the energy sector notably), quality with a concomitant price differential is often a secondary factor for the average local customer.” 78 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

Patricia Lewis

German Perspective Trinidad and Tobago continues to be an important partner to Germany. It is among the top destinations for German Foreign Direct Investment in the Western Hemisphere, said Christoph Peleikis, Deputy Head of Mission and Consul at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany. He noted: “A number of German companies have invested heavily in Trinidad and Tobago, especially in the energy sector and have constructed numerous petrochemical plants. Other companies are interested in trade and investment. The German Embassy provides them with an overview about business opportunities and about the political system that has been stable and investment-friendly in the past decades.” From the Embassy’s perspective, there are various business opportunities in the energy sector and – bearing in mind the serious efforts of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to diversify the economy – in other fields. There is a huge potential

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: EmbassyPerspective: Doing Business in T&T

for more trade as well. The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between EU and CARIFORUM that was concluded in 2008, offers tremendous opportunities in this respect, he added. Indian Perspective Commenting on Business Opportunities in T&T, Indian High Commissioner Malay Mishra said: “T&T, though itself a small market, has a good deal of potential in terms of its ideal location, excellent connectivity and preferential trade agreements with neighbouring regions; English-speaking skilled work force and a democratic system. Fellow member of the Commonwealth and with complementarity of English and a substantial Indian Diaspora forming part of the population, T&T offers considerable opportunities for growth of trade and business for India principally in the sectors of ICT, SMEs, energy as well as alternative energy, agriculture, healthcare including pharmaceuticals, traditional sectors such as textiles as well as culture including entertainment and creative industries.” He said that the High Commission “encourages potential Indian investors to look at possibilities of joint ventures in the sectors of energy, manufacturing including small industries, technology transfer, tourism and areas with ICT and ITES (Information Technology Enabled Services) as sectors with substantial potential for developing investments in T&T as the country is gearing up to diversify its industrial base.” Mexican Perspective Because of their potential for investment in Trinidad and Tobago, several sectors stand out, such as: infrastructural construction (roads and bridges, among others); sectors related to the petroleum and gas industry; airport services; services in the tourism sector (in particular, restaurants and ecotourism); department stores; and the entertainment industry, says Sergio Luna,Chargé d’Affaires, at the Embassy of Mexico. What does he tell potential investors about T&T? “The public sector has committed itself to encouraging, in the country, development and diversification of the production apparatus, from agriculture to companies involved in high technology. The existence of energy resources in T&T permits that the supply of same does not create problems for business activities, and contributes to the relatively high per capita income. Nevertheless, production and distribution costs could be high, owing to the level of prices in the economy.”

He added: “Some of the limitations in the economy present, at the same time, investment opportunities, as in the case of infrastructure and some services.” Describing Trinidad and Tobago as an important economic and trade centre, he said: “The sub-regional transportation net facilitates access to other insular economies, from Trinidad and Tobago...The expansion of air and maritime communications with Latin America would facilitate, without doubt, interregional trade and investment.” Commending the Trinidadian authorities on the initiative to encourage the teaching of Spanish as a first foreign language, Mr Luna said: “This would facilitate access to economic exchange with countries that, because of their close proximity, should be natural economic partners of Trinidad and Tobago.” He also advised that “those foreign companies that establish or associate themselves with local companies, and are particularly mindful of the quality of the service that is offered to customers, would have an advantage on their competitors.” UK Perspective UK Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Jeremy Browne, who was in Trinidad in January 2011, told British investors and T&T businesses: “There is a huge amount of unrealised potential when you consider that the UK makes up only 2.3% of Trinidad and Tobago’s total imports. The UK is the fifth largest trading nation in the world, and Trinidad is the largest trading nation in the Caribbean region, doing business with Brazil, China, the United States and Venezuela…We want to unlock this unrealised potential.” Opportunities for British businesses and British citizens, he said, included the energy sector, life sciences financial services, ICT and the creative industries. “In particular, renewable, low carbon, and sustainable energy are creating further opportunities for the UK to share our wealth of expertise and technology,” he said. We need to inspire British and Trinidadian businesses to grasp with both hands the opportunities there for the taking. We must give businesses the information they need to explore these new horizons. We share a common language, a legal system, a political system and an educational system. The Minister also pointed to opportunities for T&T business in Britain, particularly in the food and beverage industry, saying: “British consumers continue to embrace Caribbean food and drink with their unique flavours and spices. From sorrel-flavoured drinks to curry chicken meals and roti…your country’s rich Business Trinidad & Tobago • 79

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: EmbassyPerspective Doing Business in T&T

“The expansion of air and maritime communications with Latin America would facilitate, without doubt, interregional trade and investment. In this last respect, the intention of the Trinidadian authorities to encourage the teaching of Spanish as a first foreign language stands out. This would facilitate access to economic exchange with countries that, because of their close proximity, should be natural economic partners of Trinidad and Tobago.” - Sergio Luna, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of Mexico.

cultural and ethnic heritage enables you to meet the demand for products that are varied, exciting and of good quality. We would urge manufacturers and exporters from Trinidad and Tobago to look into the possibilities of supplying the UK and in turn the European market with their products.” There are some 50 British companies in Trinidad and Tobago and approximately 100 companies with British capital operating locally, such as Carillion, Cable & Wireless, Portia, Rentokil and Virgin Atlantic. There are also 10 FTSE 100 UK companies with investments locally: BP, British Airways, BATS, Centrica, Diageo, Glaxosmithkline, G4S, Lloyds, Unilever and Wolseley. In 2010, trade between the UK and T&T amounted to over TT$4 billion. US Perspective US Embassy officials described Trinidad & Tobago as “an important oil and gas producing country” which was “moving towards the status of an industrialised country.” They saw opportunities for US companies in a number of local industries but also noted that the new People’s Partnership Government had identified 12 industries as main industries for development: • • • • • • • • • • •

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Downstream from Energy High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Tourism Fishing and Fish Processing Food and Beverage Yachting Merchant Marine Printing and Packaging Film Music and Entertainment

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The Embassy also noted that: “Trinidad and Tobago has a favorable and open investment climate and, generally speaking, there are no restrictions or disincentives to investment. Foreign ownership of companies is permitted and welcomed under the Foreign Investment Act (1990) and there are a myriad of U.S. companies operating in Trinidad and Tobago. The availability and reliability of natural gas supply has attracted much of the investment in heavy industry to date.” Other positive attributes, they said were: “A double taxation agreement, bilateral investment treaty and an intellectual property rights agreement exist between the Governments of the United States and Trinidad and Tobago. The judicial system upholds the sanctity of contracts and generally provides a level playing field for foreign investors involved in court matters. A foreign investor is free to negotiate representation, agency, distribution, and franchising agreements with T&T nationals. “There are no exchange controls on foreign currency and securities. The repatriation of capital, dividends, interest and other distributions and gains on investment may be freely transacted without limits. The country has well-developed capital markets. A full range of credit instruments is available to the private sector and there are no restrictions on borrowing by foreign investors.” They also said: “Trinidad and Tobago has a well-educated, English-speaking workforce. The labor market offers a high proportion of skilled and experienced workers, and the educational level of the population is among the highest in the developing world.” Noting some investment limitations, Embassy officials pointed out that currently, the applicable “CARICOM and Foreign Investment Act of 1990 extends national treatment to CARICOM citizens but does not guarantee the same rights to other foreigners.”

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Business Valuations - Getting It Right

Gina Matthew Senior Manager - Transaction Advisory Services, Ernst & Young


Business Valuations Getting It Right

ergers, acquisitions, and other transactions are at the forefront of many corporate agendas today. As organisations focus resources and attention on transactions, they strive to build a case for the value their deals achieve. The anatomy of a superior transaction is one that supports the strategic goals and progresses the business imperatives of an organisation. At the heart of any transaction is the business valuation. A valuation can be described as a process of estimating the price to be paid by a willing buyer to a willing seller, in an arm’s length transaction under open market conditions, with both parties having reasonable knowledge of all relevant facts. At the initiation of a transaction there is usually a gap between the seller’s asking price and the value of the target asset or business to the buyer. In fact, it is common to expect a disparity between valuation and the final agreed purchase price actually paid by a buyer. The true worth of a valuation, therefore, lies in its ability to bridge that gap. There are a number of traditional valuation approaches. The most common in Trinidad and Tobago is Discounted Cash Flows and Multiples. Valuation by multiples is popular as a first approach because it is faster to implement, as it requires fewer assumptions. Under this approach, valuation is calculated by applying a factor or multiple to some performance measure, typically revenue, earnings or net asset value. Furthermore, the application of an earnings or revenue multiple requires

identification of ‘sustainable’ or ‘recurring’ revenue/earnings. Failure to perform such an assessment may result in one party “leaving money on the table” or paying too much. In Trinidad and Tobago, ascertaining the ‘right’ multiple can present a challenge. Over the past three years there has been a vast variance in earnings multiples on the local stock market, from a low of five to a high of 38. Nevertheless, this observation should be viewed in the context of the nature of the local stock market. With just about 30 listed companies, the local stock market is underdeveloped and, many argue, inefficient. Therefore, achieving transaction multiples outside of what has been observed is absolutely possible. Private companies typically may be valued at a 30 per cent to 50 per cent discount of earnings multiples achieved by publicly traded companies. As a foreign buyer considering a local pursuit, it would be inaccurate for you to apply multiples based on your home market. You should consider the adaptation of home-based multiples to account for variances such as economic cycles, maturity of capital markets, product and customer profiles, cost structures, profit margins and accounting standards. You can opt for the easy route by calculating a theoretical multiple based on widely accepted valuation principles. However, attaining an understanding of the business, its economic environment and quality of management is the greater challenge. The Multiples approach may be less relevant for businesses in high growth or start-up mode, or those businesses undergoing major restructuring or strategic re-fit, where historical earnings

Business Trinidad & Tobago • 83

are not an appropriate gauge of future performance. However, even in these situations, the Multiples approach can still be used to verify the reasonableness of the results obtained from the Discounted Cash Flows approach. Ideally, a valuation should help you define, measure, predict and shape the source of value in a business or asset. It should be objective and broad enough to incorporate all major value drivers but also offer the perspective to determine which drivers are most important. Since buyer’s and seller’s motives are unique, value drivers are as specific to an asset/business as they are to a transaction. Some of the more common drivers of value you should consider include: growth prospects, customer loyalty, preferential supplier contracts, management’s strengths, successful brands and technological know-how. More importantly, what does the transaction represent to the buyer. “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” If you are considering growth opportunities, entry through acquisition can offer a cheaper and faster option to market expansion into Trinidad and Tobago while facilitating an unrestrictive gateway to other regional trading partners. The existence of strong local or even regional brands also offers appeal. The opportunity to acquire competing brands with an ultimate goal to discontinue or reposition such brands in order to maintain or secure dominance of a buyer’s brand in a particular market segment has indeed been observed in the local landscape. While quantifying the value of many of these drivers presents a challenge in the local setting, understanding each other’s motives is key to bridging the gap between a buyer’s perspective of value and a seller’s. Similar to other less developed transaction markets, as a foreign buyer you will face issues, while engaging in transactions in Trinidad and Tobago. In addition to the valuation phase, issues can span the other transaction phases such as target identification, due diligence and post-integration. Information on local industries and intelligence on specific companies, in particular private companies, can be difficult to access, unreliable or dated. With few publicly listed companies, the local business environment is typified by private firms, many of which are family-owned. Succession issues confront a number of these companies, leading to a willingness to sell. There is a 84 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

strong recognition, locally, that a foreign buyer can bring upgraded technology, management expertise and access to overseas markets. Cultural differences and varying management styles, particularly in cases involving transitions from family-run to multinational ownership, need to be handled with sensitivity. Thorough and effective due diligence is an essential ingredient to transaction success. However, there are specific challenges in the local environment. Less sophisticated or entrepreneurial managed companies may ‘mask’ a lack of statutory compliance and reporting. A key issue in any due diligence of such companies is tax contingencies. Furthermore, such companies may operate informal trading arrangements with other firms, based on long-standing relationships. Whether these relationships continue post-integration, would require investigation. All of these factors can make it difficult for you to quickly discern the true and sustainable financial position of a potential pursuit. These challenges are further aggravated by the fact that under current legislation, private companies are not compelled to prepare audited accounts. Another key issue is local labour laws and climate. Unions have a fairly strong influence in Trinidad and Tobago. Therefore, an assessment of a seller’s relationships with local unions and reviews of severance and pension obligations are critical. Finally, capturing the full value of any transaction is only possible with a clear integration plan even before your deal is completed. How will the acquired company fit your existing operations? Who will run it? What messages will you need to send to employees, customers, suppliers and business partners? Retaining as many local managers as possible, rather than installing outsiders on a long-term or permanent basis is perhaps your best approach. Navigating through the transaction process can present unexpected surprises, especially in a new jurisdiction. There is a wealth of transaction considerations. There is little doubt that local knowledge, advice and contacts are essential for your success in any transaction. Even the search and initial screening of suitable acquisition targets, should be pursued locally. As one of the more prosperous and diverse economies in the region, Trinidad and Tobago presents an opportunistic transaction environment.

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Revitalising Tobago: Plans & Prospects

Dawn Glaisher Broker/Director & Hon. Secretary of AREA

Revitalising Tobago Plans & Prospects


obago is de facto a separate island from the larger Trinidad, but it is different in many other respects, and this needs to be acknowledged if Tobago is to develop its full potential as an island economy and create its own cleaner, less aggressive image. Unlike Trinidad, Tobago has no industrial base. It is a rural community living off tourism, fishing and agriculture and a range of small enterprises. Tobago House of Assembly (THA) policies have kept it dependent upon government aid for employment and, with only 60,000 residents, the market size is too small, in most instances, for large businesses to thrive and be sustainable. Which is exactly why tourism is such a perfect fit for Tobago. Globally, tourism is a diversified industry with enormous potential. Within the Caribbean region, Tobago is amongst those islands with few options for revenue generation, and heavily dependent upon tourism. Sometimes, the concept of “dependent” generates a resistance to tourism, but it should not, because tourism is not a single activity, and no other economic sector can work as well for island communities in terms of allowing the greatest number of people to develop their own skills and abilities while earning a living.

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However, a series of local and international events between 2006 and 2010, including an ill-advised land licence introduced in 2007 for all foreign investors in Tobago, has caused visitor arrivals to fall. A downward spiral was created that combined falling revenues with increasing inability to borrow. Basic maintenance of tourism infrastructure became a growing problem, as did the absence of any new investment into the industry, local or foreign, due to delays in implementing the new licensing regime. And so the tough got going! Tobago’s private sector, led by the Hotel & Tourism Association and the Tobago Division of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce (Tobago Chamber), mobilised its members to refocus on business generation and marketing of properties and, at the same time, worked with the two government agencies mandated to promote the island in order to re-energise their marketing campaigns. Determined to diversify nationally, central government had already formulated a National Tourism Policy that placed the private sector at the sharp end of the tourism thrust, supported by government incentives to new investors and budgets adequate for international promotion. And so the stage was set by the end of 2010 for positive action to reclaim visitor arrivals.

Dawn Glaisher

Re-opening of the former Hilton Tobago First onto the stage was the Ministry of Trade & Industry, who understood the economic potential of the closed Hilton (now Vanguard Hotel) and undertook to refurbish it and get its 200 quality rooms back onto the market. Using its own agency, eTecK, it put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) in February 2011 and anticipates announcing a new investor/operator for the hotel by the end of April, having set an opening date of November 1st 2011. President of eTecK, Richard Saunders, is very positive about the work being done by his team at Tobago Plantations Beach & Golf Resort, the site of the former Hilton Tobago. He said:“Evolving TecKnologies and Enterprise Development Company Limited (e TecK), is a special purpose state agency under the Ministry of Trade & Industry, set up to be the agent of change for Trinidad & Tobago by developing and supporting new industries, creating an environment to stimulate diversification of our economy, reduction

of our dependency on energy and the achievement of self-sustaining growth. As part of e TecK’s mandate, we are responsible for the Vanguard Hotel Ltd (VHL) Hotel & Spa in Tobago. This property represents one-third of the quality room stock in Tobago, and is vital to the development of tourism on the island. There is an unwavering commitment to operationalise the Hotel to receive guests and provide quality service by November 2011. As such, there have been significant steps taken, including the involvement of many key stakeholders, to secure an investor/operator for the property. We are confident that its re-opening will contribute significantly to the development of tourism and trigger many other investment opportunities in Tobago.” The November re-opening will be a milestone in Tobago’s tourism and a major relief to airlines serving the island who have clamoured for additional quality rooms. But the 200 rooms due back on the market in November only take us back to where we were in 2007 and will be merely a gesture towards airlines and tour operators. The onus remains firmly on Tobago to “make concrete” its plans to build two or three new 4 and 5 star resorts providing another 500 rooms in the near future. Some airlines have promised additional service if we can open one of the planned new resorts soon.

Business Trinidad & Tobago • 87

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Revitalising Tobago: Plans & Prospects

“We have a golden opportunity here to achieve our tourism vision, making the industry the greenest in the region, and giving ourselves a strong and long-lasting marketing advantage.”

Chairman of the Tobago Chamber, David Wong, is wellplaced to see the strengths and weaknesses of the local economy and believes that this is indeed a time of great opportunity for reinvestment to meet quality standards as well as new investment triggered by government’s oft-repeated commitment to strengthening the tourism sector and, with it, all downstream industries. “The thing about the tourism industry, which is the backbone of the Tobago economy, is that it leaves the road wide open for so many of our members to come in and give support. Not only is there opportunity for our manufacturers and distributors to set up business here, using the daily cargo ferry to transport raw materials and products, but the Tobago entrepreneur can choose from an endless list of services and support businesses to feed into the tourism sector, in addition to the permanent population. The Cove Eco-Industrial and Business Park is a great opportunity on an island where historically everything was small-scale and not many vehicles were involved. Today, we need space for containers, we need parking, we need infrastructure and waste management on a much larger scale, so decentralising out of Scarborough to Cove is great for our larger businesses. The positive aspect of encouraging investment into new goods and services by our members is that we keep more and more of the profits from tourism within our own economy, minimising the need for imports. So any businesses that start up here offering goods and support services to hotels and guesthouses, bars and restaurants, souvenir and clothing outlets etc would do well, and would be contributing to the sustainability of our prime industry and positively affecting GDP.” 88 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

Diversification within tourism The Tobago House of Assembly is determined to diversify a level of revenue generation on the island and, in 2009, formed a special purpose company, E-IDCOT Ltd, to manage their EcoIndustrial & Business Park at Cove, located off the main highway, mid-way between the sea and air ports. According to a statement from the management agency:“E-IDCOT sees its role as fostering an attitude of innovation, sustainability and environmental responsibility in the promotion of investment in Tobago, aware that other CARICOM states have been struggling to manage their local economies. Cove, with its 140 acres of Business Park, will give new and established entrepreneurs access to modern facilities and infrastructure. Cove is the landing point for the National Gas Company of T&T’s pipeline, which will provide clean energy for electricity generation to feed the Park, with its surplus power sold externally. Cove is a business development zone with two Business Incubators for start-up companies, six factory shells, a shared Business Centre, Innovation Centre for R&D and an Administration Building. Among the incentives and services to be provided are exemptions from import duty on raw materials, machinery and equipment for industrial projects, environmental impact analysis, tax holidays (to 10 years) where applicable, and relief on VAT on imports of capital intensive items.” The Eco-Industrial Development Company of Tobago (E-IDCOT) Ltd. Ground Floor, Gulf City Mall, Lowlands. Tel: (868) 635 2683/660 2683 - Fax: (868) 631 2683. Web:

Targeted activities for location in Cove Business Park Resource-based industries: a. Agro-processing and food industries b. Marine resources processing c. Wood working d. Construction materials e. Natural gas – intensive operations f. Other intermediate goods processing Location-advantageous/urban industries: a. Maritime industries b. Paper and plastic packaging c. Data processing service industries d. Metal working e. Other light industries Skilled Labour and Technology-based industries: a. Information, Communication and Technology services b. Medical and laboratory services c. Professional services

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Revitalising Tobago: Plans & Prospects

Tobago has what it takes As important as diversification is to the growth of economic activity, the immediate success of the island still rests on the shoulders of the tourism private sector and its extensive infrastructure; vital weekly airlift from New York, Frankfurt and Gatwick; and a product that remains under-developed. Vice President of the Tobago Hotel & Tourism Association, Chris James, speaks from 17 years of direct experience of local tourism. “In Tobago we must have a critical room mass meeting the needs of all our customers, and this can be achieved with a combination of new build and refurbishment of existing hotels. Once we achieve the critical room mass we will secure our airlift and satisfy the tour operators. Tourism is both a foreign exchange earner and an employment generator. If developed properly, it can add value to almost every aspect of business in Tobago. We have a golden opportunity here to achieve our tourism vision, making the industry the greenest in the region, and giving ourselves a strong and long-lasting marketing advantage. It is an ideal industry too to help Government reach its own diversification targets. It can compliment many other initiatives as it will brand T&T positively and open up the world to many other products and services on offer here, as well as encouraging FDI. We have a marketing slogan that is so appropriate: “It’s Tobago Time.” It is indeed time for us to fulfill our potential and build a strong, resilient, sustainable tourism industry for a better T&T.” Chris James is also a local private investor committed to Tobago and poised to begin work on two new resorts held in abeyance by delays in the land licence and credit squeeze of the past two years. With construction of a small hotel and the acquisition of an existing hotel to his name, he already has both investors and financing for a 4 star/79 room and 6 star/200 room project, having waited only for the green light of government incentives and a working land licence procedure - which is now fully functional. Chris James’ smaller resort, Indigo Bay, is a 4-star hotel apartment complex on Little Rockly Bay in Tobago, located right on the beach, within sight of what used to be Tobago Hilton. “It has been designed by the award-winning UK architects Capita Symonds, in collaboration with one of the airlines serving Tobago, and will contain 79 fully-furnished apartments ranging from studios to two bedrooms. The resort will have a swimming pool, bar, gymnasium and restaurant facilities and will prove a much-needed addition to the Tobago room stock,” James said. The larger resort is on the 150-acre Culloden Estate located just beyond Arnos Vale and destined to be a cutting-edge, ecodriven 200-room development. “The Culloden Reef Resort has been designed as the ultimate

6-star, luxury and environmentally sensitive resort. Culloden Estate is home to a vast variety of audited indigenous flora and fauna, including 44 species of birds and provides nesting grounds for the green turtle. There is direct access to two beautiful private beaches, sheltered by one of the island’s unique coral formations. We have been in discussions with LEED designers and in early 2008 HRH Prince Charles visited Tobago to view an exhibition of the Travel Foundation, during which Culloden Reef was presented to him. HRH warmly welcomed the initiative and expressed an interest in opening the Resort, asking us to keep him up to date with its progress,” James added.

Confirmation of central government support and partnership Perceptions are powerful, and it is vital at this time that Government demonstrates its commitment to the future of Tobago in pragmatic ways. Without doubt, there is clear support from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s People’s Partnership administration via the involvement of three of her Ministries in the revitalisation of the island. One Ministry is, of course, that of Tourism but, in addition, the PM created a Cabinet post for a new Minister of Tobago Development, and the Ministry of Trade and Industry already has its feet on the ground, working through eTecK on the milestone re-opening of the Hilton/ Vanguard Hotel. Minister Stephen Cadiz is sure that his Ministry can help Tobago grow without compromising that all-important “Brand Tobago.” He said: “While Tobago has indeed been a quiet gem for many years, we would like to see the island move forward in terms of business and investment activity, yet at the same time preserving its calm, tranquil and unspoilt nature – which is indeed the source of its charm. For a while now, Tobago’s economy has not been at the levels we would like to see, and we’re in the process of examining various options to improve that. For example, we are definitely working towards having the Vanguard Hotel up and running by end 2011, adding 200 high quality rooms to the island’s stock. Then of course there is the Cove Eco-Industrial estate, designed to add other revenue-generating avenues apart from tourism. We see great things in Tobago’s future and are committed to working with all stakeholders – public and private – to ensure long term, sustainable growth and development.” The final word on Tobago rightly goes to the Ministry of Tobago Development, and Minister Vernella Alleyne-Toppin has this to say about tourism and the island: “The very fact that for the first time in the history of Trinidad and Tobago there exists a Ministry of Tobago Development, underscores the high priority that the Central Government has placed on positioning Tobago on the international stage and as an equal partner in our unitary state. The Government, through the Ministry of Tobago Development is

Business Trinidad & Tobago • 89

Why Choose Trinidad & Tobago: Revitalising Tobago: Plans & Prospects

extending every effort to send the signal that Tobago is open for business. In tandem with the refurbishment of the Vanguard Hotel, the Central Government, through the Ministry of Tobago Development and the Ministry of Trade, has entered into preliminary discussions with relevant stakeholders in Tobago to explore the possibility of the establishment of a Tourism Development Fund. It is expected that this fund will inject millions of much needed dollars into the tourism industry that employs more than 40% of the workforce in Tobago. To encourage both investors and pleasure tourists to our beautiful shores, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago along with other key stakeholders in the Caribbean, was able to successfully lobby the British Government to rescind the increase in the Air Passenger Tax that became effective in November 2010. Additionally, citizens of India, Russia and most of the Baltic region are now exempt from Visa requirements to visit Trinidad and Tobago. It is envisioned that this will go a long way in facilitating the penetration of emerging tourist markets. Tobago is an island rich in natural resources: the latest gas finds are in the territorial waters of Tobago; and one of Trinidad and Tobago’s eminent scientists is currently conducting studies in harnessing the power of the ocean’s currents to produce energy and two of the three sites that have been identified are in Tobago. Rich soil, a stable economy, good governance and an educated population make Tobago an attractive tourist destination and an island ripe for investment.” This combination of government and private sector activity and partnership reinforces the message that action is being taken, and Tobago is once again on track as a dynamic place to invest. With refurbishments in hand, two new resorts about to break ground, a modern Business Park encouraging entrepreneurship and diversification within the tourism economy, and government in the wings - supporting with policy, hands-on initiatives and fiscal incentives administered by their agency the Tourism Development Company Ltd (TDC), Tobago once again comes centre-stage, its future bright and full of promise for a healthy and sustained return on investment. Dawn Glaisher is the owner of SeaJade Investments - Real Estate Brokers & Property Consultants ( Useful Links Tobago Hotel & Tourism Association: T&T Chamber of Industry & Commerce – Tobago Chapter:

Fast Facts on Tobago • International Visitor arrivals 2005 - 80,000; 2006 - 76,000; 2007 - 66,000; 2008 – 56,500; 2009 38,300; 2010 27,000 (estimated). • Tourism arrivals by country of origin: Caribbean, UK, Canada, Germany, others • Extension of the Scarborough jetty completed in 2009 to boost cruise ship arrivals. • Former Hilton Tobago being refurbished for reopening on November 1st 2011 under new management/branding. • Airlift direct from UK via BA, Virgin Atlantic, Monarch; Condor from Germany; Caribbean Airlines from New York. Regional carriers Caribbean Airlines and LIAT link to the islands and to other international flights landing in Trinidad from Houston, Miami, Venezuela, Canada, Barbados, Grenada and others. • Financial incentives under the Hotel Act administered by the Tourism Development Company, and include exemption from taxation on profits, exemption from import duties on construction and other materials or equipment and other tax benefits. • Domestic inter-island ferry service from Port of Spain to Scarborough sails daily with passenger travel and cargo on the fast ferry as well as a slower cargo ferry. • Domestic inter-island flights are frequent and reliable but larger aircraft are used to meet peak demand. • Cove Eco-Industrial and Business Park planned to diversify the island economy away from total dependence on tourism. Cove now has its own electricity generation plant soon to be run on T&T’s own natural gas arriving by pipeline to Cove Point. • The Chamber of Industry and Commerce Tobago Chapter has some 70 members • The Tobago Hotel & Tourism Association has some 80 members. • THA capital projects completed recently include the new Buccoo Village goat race track and beach facility. Projects in progress include the new hospital, Shaw Park Cultural Centre, the Financial Complex and Scarborough Library. • The Crown Point International Airport expansion is a work in progress with the runway now being resurfaced, the airport being re-roofed and rewired, a VIP lounge added, and new flight information monitors installed along with a new, shared check-in system. • Trinidad & Tobago Hotel and Guesthouse Room Stock Upgrade Incentive Project launched in February 2010 offers to a selected number of properties a 25 per cent reimbursement of the cost of upgrading guestrooms, up to an agreed maximum.

90 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

Business T&T Useful Information

Business Trinidad & Tobago Economic Statistics

Economic Statistics Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to grow by 2 per cent in 2011, with inflation holding at 7-8 per cent and unemployment hovering around 7 per cent. The fiscal stimulus measures to be implemented in 2011 will impact the construction sector and help kickstart economic recovery in the non-energy sector, which continued to be flat in 2010. In making these predictions in January 2011, Central Bank Governor Ewart Williams said economic growth would be led by developments in the energy sector but with the expectation of positive growth in the non-energy sector for the first time in three years. “Ordinarily, after a pronounced downturn, employment

generation lags economic recovery. However, the nature of the expected fiscal stimulus in 2011 would imply some increase in employment in the construction sector which should, at least, contain the unemployment rate at about 7 percent,” he said. According to data from the Central Statistical Office (CSO), over the five-year period 2004-2010, real GDP grew by 6 per cent to $90.97 billion in 2010. Within this, Manufacturing grew by 21 per cent to $7.6 billion, Agriculture by 23 per cent to $478.2 million sand the Energy sector by 7 per cent to $38.62 billion. Services demonstrated the slowest growth at 1.43 per cent to $42.61 billion. This analysis is based on provisional figures for 2010.










20,028.9 9,208.8 4,192.9 894.4 1,756.0 21.7

20,305.4 9,524.1 4,094.7 901.4 1,854.5 29.4

20,059.2 10,012.8 3,979.8 668.0 1,878.2 28.9

20,418.3 10,725.9 4,325.8 266.5 1,827.9 17.7

21,065.6 10,908.1 4,496.5 198.4 1,928.6 27.8






390.1 5.6 317.0 67.5 (114.6) 47.3 134.8

475.1 7.5 337.0 130.6 (113.6) 18.7 225.5

511.4 6.8 340.4 164.2 (113.0) 1.9 275.3

352.7 4.6 316.1 32.0 (116.4) 1.9 146.5

478.2 4.6 319.1 154.5 0.0 1.9 152.6

6,297.6 2,573.2 130.7 695.5 138.1 1,244.7 1,246.9 268.5

7,326.4 3,150.0 134.2 829.8 173.3 1,314.8 1,397.7 326.6

7,508.8 3,414.0 164.8 802.7 158.7 1,244.4 1,417.5 306.7

7,380.6 3,607.9 169.3 717.9 114.7 1,205.9 1,326.8 238.1

7,603.0 3,633.0 182.0 658.1 103.7 1,255.7 1,508.4 262.1

42,005.1 1,155.0 6,597.6 10,480.3 257.3 6,133.5 10,567.6 3,970.9 1,773.8 1,069.1

44,587.7 1,230.6 7,068.6 10,828.6 258.3 6,502.6 11,669.5 4,099.3 1,786.7 1,143.5

46,594.1 1,267.2 7,386.0 11,889.9 211.9 6,746.3 12,098.3 4,168.0 1,733.9 1,092.6

42,929.5 1,270.6 6,827.8 9,370.4 186.3 6,746.3 11,527.6 4,097.3 1,761.9 1,141.3

42,606.9 1,271.7 6,407.6 9,078.0 157.2 7,075.6 11,637.1 4,005.0 1,783.1 1,191.6


(2,669.5) 3,669.4

(3,163.3) 3,938.9

(3,072.2) 3,831.7

(3,079.3) 3,578.9

(2,847.7) 4,509.6







Industry Exploration and Production Refining (Incl Atlantic LNG) Petrochemicals Service Contractors Distribution Asphalt Production

NON-PETROLEUM INDUSTRY Agriculture1/ Export Agriculture Domestic Agriculture Sugar: Sugar refineries Cane farming and cultivation Distilleries Manufacturing 2/ Food, Beverages and Tobacco Textile, Garments and Footwear Printing, Publishing etc. Wood and Related Products Chemicals and Non-Metallic Minerals Assembly Type and Related Industries Miscellaneous Manufacturing Services Electricity and Water Construction and Quarrying Distribution and Restaurants 3/ Hotels and Guest Houses Transport, Storage and Communication Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, etc Government Education and Cultural Services Personal Services

1/ Agriculture (exluding sugar) for the years 2006 to 2010($mn): 322.6, 344.5, 347.2, 320.7 and 323.7 respectively. 2/ Excludes oil refining and petrochemical industries. (See ‘PETROLEUM SECTOR’). 3/ Excludes distribution of petroleum products. (See ‘PETROLEUM SECTOR’.) 4/ Financial Intemediation Services Indirectly Measured

92 • Business Trinidad & Tobago



Business Trinidad & Tobago Stock Market

Trinidad and Tobago Stock Market… Insights and Analysis Charissa Mooteeram, Research Analyst II First Citizens Investment Services

Two months into 2011, the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange (TTSE) Composite index is up 5.21% with a total volume of 11,393,113 shares trading. Compared to the same period a year ago, the Composite yielded a return of 4.72% with 19.56% more shares trading on the market. As seen in Figure 1, annual returns over the past few years left much to be desired as investor confidence in the economy and the stock market dwindled from the fall out of the global financial crisis. So with a 9.19% return on the index for 2010, what’s in store for 2011?

Figure 1: History of Returns Source: First Citizens Investment Services Research Department/TTSE


2010’s rally was supported by a significant rise in high dividend yield stocks such as Unilever Caribbean Ltd (UCL), National Commercial Bank Jamaica (NCBJ) and The West Indian Tobacco Company Ltd (WCO) which saw capital gains of 34.63%, 40.38% and 47.61% respectively. Declining yields on short-term instruments in the local market forced investors to turn to higher dividend yielding stocks creating a classic case of “too many players chasing too few goods,” which inevitably pushed prices up. Despite these gains, the trading frequency of these stocks remain relatively low as the availability of shares to buy is scarce. Total volumes traded for 2010 increased by a mere 0.84% year-on-year as the illiquidity of the market continues to be a challenge. Share prices for 2010 closed at two extremes, record highs and record lows leaving most investors uncertain of where to place their funds next.

Closing Price

2011 YTD Return 2010 YTD Return

As at February 23rd 2011

Sagicor Financial Corporation (SFC)




Prestige Holdings Limited (PHL)




Flavourite Foods Limited (FFL)




Neal and Massy Holdings Limited (NML)




National Enterprises Limited (NEL)




With a total of 878,792 shares traded for the year as at 23 February 2011, Sagicor remains the most traded stock for the year together with Trinidad Cement Limited, with a trading frequency of 76.92%. Unlike the negative return seen over the 2010 period when almost the same number of shares traded, SFC’s share price is up 18.75% possibly due to the announcement of the impending investment by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and SFC which is said to “demonstrate confidence in the management and operations of Sagicor.” An investment by IFC of US$100 million in

the form of common and preferred shares in Sagicor will allow existing shareholders an opportunity to buy additional shares. While this represents stock dilution, the market has responded positively to this transaction leading to a rise in its share price thus far. Even with a trading frequency of 35.90%, the 91,991 shares traded in PHL was less than half the volume traded over the same period last year but its price gained 18.74% up to 23 February 2011. Its latest unaudited results for the 9 months ending 31 August 2010 indicated an 18.18% rise

Business Trinidad & Tobago • 93

Business Trinidad & Tobago Stock Market

In 2010, market capitalisation rose by 10.2 per cent to $77.8 billion. Some 77.6 million shares were traded. The value of shares traded fell by 41.4 per cent to $864.5 million. The All Trinidad and Tobago Index and the Cross Listed Index rose by 7.0 per cent and 14.2 per cent respectively.

in net income despite booking a TT$5.04 million loss from the discontinuation of its Long John Silver’s operation. Earnings per share from its continuing operations came in at TT$0.385, 17% higher than the period before. The Group remains focused on its revenue generating operations and expects “to incur reduced losses from overseas businesses.” As one of the least traded stocks on the market, FFL traded just two days for the year, the first transaction being a trade of 26 shares at TT$5.61. Following this, 4,000 shares traded on 23 February resulting in a TT$0.84 rise in price to TT$6.45. The illiquidity of this stock is a main concern to investors as it can result in sporadic and large price changes with limited bids and offers available. Investors await the future plans of NML with the company disposing of its investment in Warrens Motors Inc and Bahamas Supermarket. Like NML, NEL’s trading frequency is over 50% and continues to trade strongly on the back of high dividend yields. Since resuming trading on 14 February 2011, Angostura Holdings Ltd’s (AHL) share price has fallen by 15.94% to TT$5.80 with a total of 305,087 shares trading in its first 5 trading days for the year. It remains to be seen whether management can regain investor confidence as it seeks to recover from the TT$1.3 billion charge for its CL Financial receivables. Whether the ‘market movers’ for the year so far will continue to lead in its price appreciation for the rest of 2011 is the million dollar question. Can portfolio managers expect a year of double digit returns for 2011 on the TTSE Composite Index? In theory, a more positive outlook on the economy should be reflected in the stock market as investors become more confident in the market contributing to economic growth and hence earnings to the company. Does the same apply to our illiquid market? With a few players influencing price movements, price discovery

94 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

continues to be a major challenge to analysts in the local market. Individuals remain hesitant to invest in local stocks as returns are volatile and sometimes dependent on non-fundamental concerns. In an illiquid market such as ours, where bid/ask spreads can range anywhere from TT$0.01 to TT$8.50, identifying the intrinsic value of a stock remains vulnerable to what is available on the market with respect to demand and supply. This was evident in 2010 when the stock market rallied on the basis of large capital gains on a few and ‘expensive’ illiquid stocks. Most will agree that greater transparency, a boost to investor confidence and more company listings will be beneficial to the local market and should help smooth out returns as some semblance of liquidity is returned to the market. Useful Links:

All information contained in this article has been obtained from sources that First Citizens Investment Services believes to be accurate and reliable. All opinions and estimates constitute the Author’s judgment as of the date of the article; however neither its accuracy and completeness nor the opinions based thereon are guaranteed. As such, no warranty, express or implied, as to the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of this article is given or made by First Citizens Investment Services in any form whatsoever. First Citizens Investment Services and/or it employees or directors may, where applicable, make markets and effect transactions, or have positions in securities or companies mentioned herein. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed shall be construed to be, or constitute an offer or a solicitation to buy or sell.

Business Trinidad & Tobago Fast Facts Guide

Fast Facts Guide OFFICIAL NAME Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. LOCATION The southern end of the Caribbean archipelago: Latitude 11 degrees North Longitude 60 degrees West TIME ZONE Summer: EST equivalent to GMT – 5 hours Winter: EST + 1 hour, GMT – 4 hours. No daylight savings time in T&T. CLIMATE Mean temperatures of 85 degrees with 60% humidity in the dry season of January to May, and 90 degrees with 75% humidity June to December. Night time temperatures can drop to around 70 degrees in the cooler months. CAPITAL CITY Port of Spain, Trinidad, seat of the national democratic government; Scarborough, Tobago, seat of the local government body, the Tobago House of Assembly (THA). POPULATION Estimated population 1.3m of which 55,000 resident in Tobago.

Table 1: GDP contribution by main sectors in US$ Year


2007 14,286.5 2008 14,614.4 2009 14,487.8

Energy Manufacturing Services Agriculture 40% 5,826.8 6,059.7 5,893.5

6% 1,163.6 1,224.6 1,258.9

47% 7,101.1 7,325.3 6,861.3

0.5% 67.1 74.4 88.7

Source: Ministry of Finance and Central Bank Review of the Economy reports.

The Labour Force (calculated as the number of persons over 15 years of age) is approximately 980,000 persons out of a total populace of 1.3 million, with a participation rate of just over 60%. The median income in T&T is US$4,761 per annum. It is lowest in the agricultural sector (US$2,600 per annum) and highest in the energy sector (US$9,500). Although productivity has risen between 2004 and 2008, the first decline has come in tandem with the global financial crisis. The most marked drops have come in Assembly Type and Related Products (21.8 percent); Textiles, Garments and Footwear (20.2 percent); Electricity (5.7 percent); and Food Processing (2.5 percent). Table 2 All workers/all industries Percentage change

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2.6 9.3 7.6 10.9 7.2 -2.2

Source: Ministry of Finance and Central Bank Review of the Economy reports.

THE GOVERNMENT Trinidad and Tobago’s government is a parliamentary democracy. The head of state is the President, who is elected by an Electoral College of members of the Senate and House of Representatives for a five-year term. Executive power, however, is vested in the Prime Minister and Government following elections every five years. Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago must be 18 years or older to be eligible to vote. LEGAL SYSTEM The legal system is based on common law and statutes. The judicial system comprises Magistrates Courts and the Supreme Court, which comprises the High Court and the Court of Appeal. There is a separate Industrial Court that deals with most labour matters. The Judicial and Legal Service Commission appoints judges to the Supreme Court. Final appeal is to the Privy Council in England, but consideration is being given to replacing the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice, inaugurated in April 2005 with headquarters in Port of Spain. THE ECONOMY Trinidad and Tobago is the most diversified and industrialised economy in the English-speaking Caribbean, and has earned a reputation as a good investment site for international businesses. More than one-third of the country’s Gross Domestic Product comes from the energy sector. Table 1 gives a sector breakdown of GDP contributions by percentage and US dollar contributions. Between 2004 and 2008, this sector directly provided 40% of GDP and 54% of government revenue.

ETHNIC PROFILE • 40.3% East Indian descent • 39.6% African descent • 18.9% mixed descent • 1.2% European, Arab and Chinese OFFICIAL LANGUAGE English (Spanish is being promoted as T&T’s first foreign language) CURRENCY Trinidad and Tobago dollar tied to the US$ and floating at US$1 = TT$6.4 Notes: $1, $5, $10, $20 and $100 Coins: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 BUSINESS DRESS CODE Trinidad is more formal with lightweight suits worn, but in Tobago jackets are optional except on formal occasions. BUSINESS HOURS Generally 0800 to 1600 Monday to Friday, retail outlets 0800 to 1600 except at Malls where opening time is 1000 and closing is 1900. MAJOR BANKS The major banks have their main corporate offices in Port of Spain with branches in strategic locations throughout Trinidad and obago. They maintain international links through their affiliates in North America and Europe. • Citibank (Trinidad only) • First Citizens • Intercommercial Bank (Trinidad only) • RBTT • Republic Bank • Scotiabank

Business Trinidad & Tobago • 95

Business Trinidad & Tobago Fast Facts Guide

• Bank of Baroda (Trinidad only) Banking hours are 0800 to 1400 Monday to Thursday, 0800 to 1200 and 1500 to 1700 Friday. Mall branches: usually 1000 – 1700. All banks have Automatic Banking Machines (ABMs) and major shopping malls contain either full service branches or ABMs. The ABM banking system features LINX that enables clients to access accounts from any ABM regardless of agency in the country. LINX can also be used to make purchases at retail outlets throughout the country. ABMs also offer access to advance cash withdrawals for VISA, MasterCard and VISA Plus clients. TRAVELLER’S CHEQUES AND CREDIT CARDS Accepted in most establishments. Customs & Excise Division accepts cash only. Other Government agencies may accept cash or LINX only. DUTY FREE SHOPPING Available at the Cruise Ship Complex, Piarco and Crown Point International Airports, Apadoca’s at Crews Inn for boats leaving the country and selected downtown Port of Spain stores. TAXES Departure Tax: TT$100 is now included in the cost of the airline ticket (local currency only). Citizens over the age of 60 years old are exempt. Hotel Tax: 10% service charge and 10% Hotel Room Tax. Value Added Tax (VAT): 15% on goods and services. TELEPHONE 1 (868) + seven digit number. ELECTRICITY 115 volts / 230 volts (+/- 6%) and 60Hz. ROAD SYSTEMS Driving is on the left side of the road. DOMESTIC FERRY SERVICE Domestic fast ferry service: T&T Express, T&T Spirit and conventional, slower ferry - the Warrior Spirit - transport passengers and cargo between the two islands. Ticket can be purchased on the same day or in advance at various Travel Agencies and Internet Cafes in Tobago. • Adult passengers: TT$50 one-way and return TT$100 • Children: TT$25 one-way and return TT$50 • Minors 3 years and under, senior citizens of T&T 65 years and over travel free. • Ferry passengers with private cars costs TT$150 one way and TT$250 return trip. (Where there is no charge applied, a ticket is still required for every passenger. Senior citizens are still required to present a photo ID to verify age and nationality. Personal photo identification is needed when traveling between isles and when purchasing tickets.) Log on to: for further info. The Water Taxi, sails from San Fernando to Port of Spain and back

96 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

with scheduled sailing times, Monday to Friday. Tickets TT$15 one way, can be purchased at the Water Taxi Terminals located at Flat Rock, Lady Hailes Avenue, San Fernando or the Cruise Ship Complex, Port of Spain. Free parking is available at both ports. There is a PTSC shuttle service which cost TT$3 through the city of Port of Spain. For further information visit: or call 624-5593. AIRPORTS Piarco International Airport — 17 miles (27 km) from Port of Spain. Airport code POS. Crown Point International Airport — 7 miles (10km) from Scarborough. Airport code TAB. AIRLINES Piarco International Airport is serviced with scheduled flights from Caribbean Airlines, American Airlines, Amerijet, International, LIAT, Suriname Airways, COPA Airlines, Avior and Insel Air, in addition to several charter operators. Crown Point sees daily scheduled flights from LIAT, two weekly Condor out of Germany, one from Virgin Atlantic out of London, one from Excel Airways out of London. The domestic “airbridge” is operated by Tobago Express based in Trinidad, flying regular daily flights between 6am and 10pm. The domestic fare is TT$150 single and TT$300 return. Internet bookings are now available. EMERGENCY SERVICES A Hyperbaric Medical Facility (Dive Chamber) available in Roxborough, Tobago. Emergency Service

Telephone Nos:

Ambulance Coast Guard: Crime Stoppers Disaster Response Fire Police/Rapid Response The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM):

811, 990 634-4440 800-TIPS (8477) 640-8905 990 999 Trinidad: 640-1285/8905/ 8653/6493 Tobago: 660-7489

MEDIA Daily Press includes: Trinidad Express, Trinidad Guardian & Newsday. Bi-weekly: TNT Mirror. Weeklies include: Tobago News, Catholic News, Bomb, Blast, Show Time, The Probe, Punch and Newspaper Direct Trinidad and Tobago. Monthly: Trinidad and Tobago Review Local television stations: CCN TV-6 (channels 6 and 18); CNMG (Channel 9), National Carnival Commission NCC (Channel 4), WINTV (Channel 37 & 39). Local programming via cable television: Cable News Channel CNC3 (channel 3), Gayelle Television (Channel 7), Islamic Broadcast Network IBN (Channel 8), IETV (channel 16), Parliament (Channel 11), WINTV (Channel 12) There are about 30 radio stations operating on the FM band, and two on the AM band (530 AM and 730 AM).

Business Trinidad & Tobago Contact Information

Trinidad Contact Information The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AmCham) 62A Maraval Road, Newtown, Port-of-Spain Tel: (868) 622-4466; 622-0340 Fax: (868) 628-9428 E-mail: Website:

Association of Caribbean States Ernst & Young Building 5-7 Sweet Briar Road, St. Clair, Port-of-Spain Tel: (868) 622-9575 Fax: (868) 622-1653 E-mail: Website:

Association of Real Estate Agents (AREA) Suite A4, Kencita Court 76 Picton Street, Newtown, Port-of-Spain Tel: (868) 628-9048 Fax: (868) 628-9049 E-mail: Website:

Association of Trinidad and Tobago Insurance Companies (ATTIC) 9 Stanmore Avenue, Port-of-Spain Tel: (868) 624-2817, 625-2940 Fax: (868) 625-5132 E-mail: Website:

Business Development Company Limited 151B Charlotte Street, Port-of-Spain Tel: (868) 623-5507; 624-3932 Fax: (868) 625-8126; 624-3919 E-mail: Website:

Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC) 27A Saddle Road, Maraval Port-of-Spain Tel: (868) 628-9859; 622-6761 Fax: (868) 622-7810 E-mail: Website:

Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago

Fashion Week Trinidad & Tobago

Eric Williams Financial Plaza, Independence Square P.O. Box 1250, Port-of-Spain Tel: (868) 625-2601/4921/4835/ 0121 Fax: (868) 627-4023 E-mail: Website:

Tel: Trinidad (868) 290-4659 or (868) 750-3102 Tobago: (868) 707-8520 E-mail: Website:

Central Statistical Office (CSO)

22-24 St Vincent Street, Port of Spain Tel: (868) 627-2218, 627-2231 Fax: (868) 627-2218 E-mail: Website:

National Statistics Building 80 Independence Square Port of Spain Tel: (868) 623-6495/7069 Fax: (868) 625-3802 E-mail: Website:

Employers’ Consultative Association of Trinidad and Tobago (ECA) 23 Chacon Street, Port-of-Spain Tel: (868) 625-4723 Fax: (868) 625-4891 E-mail: Website:

The Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago Suite B2.03 Atlantic Plaza, Atlantic Avenue Point Lisas, Couva Tel: (868) 6-ENERGY, 679-6623, 679-1398 Fax: (868) 679-4242 E-mail: Website:

Evolving TecKnologies and Enterprise Development Company Limited (eTecK) The Atrium, Don Miguel Road Extension, El Socorro Tel: (868) 675-1989 Fax: (868) 675-9125 E-mail: Website:

Fashion Association of Trinidad & Tobago Tel: (868) 627-6975 E-mail: fashionassociationtt@

Institute of Banking & Finance of Trinidad and Tobago

Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries Tower C- EnergyTrinidad andTobago International Waterfront Centre #1 Wrightson Road, Port of Spain Tel: (868) 623-6708 or (868) 62-MOEEI Fax: (868) 625-0306 Email: Website:

Ministry of Finance Level 8, Eric Williams Finance Building Port of Spain Tel: (868) 627-9700/9703/9695 Fax: (868) 627-5882 Email: Website:

Ministry of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs St Clair Circle, St Clair, Port of Spain Tel: 622-1221-5, 622-5481-7 Fax: (868) 622-8202 Website: http://www.agriculture.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Level 10-14 Tower C Waterfront Complex 1A Wrightson Road Port of Spain Tel: (868) 623-4116 Fax: (868) 624-4220 Website:

Ministry of Health 63 Park Street, Port of Spain Tel: (868) 627-0010-17 Fax: (868) 623-9528 Email: Website:

Ministry of Public Administration Level 7, National Library Building Corner Hart and Abercromby St. Port of Spain Tel: (868) 625-6724, 623-7122/ Fax: (868) 623-6027 Website:

Ministry of Tourism Clarence House 127-129 Duke Street, Port-of-Spain Trinidad and Tobago Tel: (868) 624-1403, 624-3151, 624-4792, 625-0963 Fax: (868) 625-1825, 625-3894 Email: tt, Website:

Ministry of Trade and Industry Nicholas Towers, Level 11-17 63-65 Independence Square Port-of-Spain Tel: (868) 623-2931-4 Fax: (868) 627-8488; 627-0002 E-mail: Website:

The National Information and Communication Technology Company Limited (iGovTT) Level 1-3, Lord Harris Court 52 Pembroke Street, Port of Spain Trinidad Tel: (868) 627-5600 Fax: (868) 624-8001 Email: Website:

Office of Disaster Preparedness & Management (ODPM) Trinidad Office 4A Orange Grove Road Trincity, Tacarigua Tel: (868) 6401285/8905/8653/6493 Fax: (868) 640-8988 E-mail: Website:

Business Trinidad & Tobago • 97

Business Trinidad & Tobago Contact Information

Tourism Development Company Limited (TDC)

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce

Level 1, Maritime Centre No. 29 Tenth Avenue, Barataria Tel: (868) 675-7034-7 Fax: (868) 638-7962 E-mail: Website:

Chamber Building, Columbus Circle, Westmoorings P.O. Box 499, Port-of-Spain Tel: (868) 637-6965-6 Fax: (868) 637-7425 E-mail: Website:

Trinidad and Tobago Agribusiness Association 11 Eastern Main Road Tunapuna Tel: (868) 645-9204 / 645-6511 E-mail: Website:

Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries Limited 45 Cornelio Street, Woodbrook, Port of Spain Tel.: (868) 622-9229 Fax: (868) 622-8985 Email: Website:

The Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association (TTHTI) c/o Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute Airway Road, Chaguaramas Tel: (868) 634-1174/5 Fax: (868) 634-1176 E-mail: Website:

Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) 42 Tenth Avenue, Barataria Tel: (868) 675-8862 Fax: (868) 675-9000 E-mail: Website:

Trinidad and Tobago Transport Service Association Cruise Ship Complex Dock Road, Port of Spain Tel: (868) 623-4419 Fax: (868) 624-5016 Email: touristtransport1@ Website:

Work Permit Secretariat Ministry of National Security Temple Court II 52-60 Abercromby St., Port of Spain Tel: (868) 623-2154/44 exts. 2250 or 2251 Email: Website: www.nationalsecurity.

Tobago Contact Information Business Development Company Ltd eTeck Mall, Sangster’s Hill, Scarborough Tel: (868) 639-4067 or 639-2549 Fax: (868) 639-4340 Contact: Mr Dedan Daniel Email: info@ Website:

Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Tobago Chapter T.E.A.L. Building The Waterfront Scarborough Tel: (868) 639-2669 Fax: (868) 639-2669 Email: Website:

Eco-industrial Development Company of Tobago Limited (E-IDCOT) CEO Mr Earle Baccus Gulf City Mall, Lowlands Tel: (868) 635-2683, 631-COVE; 635-COVE; 660-COVE Fax: (868) 631-COVE, 635-2214 Email: Website:

98 • Business Trinidad & Tobago

Environment Tobago (NGO) P O Box 503 Scarborough Tel: (868) 660 7462 Fax: (868) 660 7467 Email: Website: www.environmenttobago. net

The National Emergency Management Agency (Tobago) (TEMA) Fairfield Complex Bacolet Street Scarborough Tel: (868) 631-CERT (2378) or 660-7489 Email: Website:

The Travel Foundation L.P. 159, Black Rock Tel: (868) 635-0032 Contact: Ms. Rosemary Thomas, Project Co-ordinator Email: Website: www.thetravelfoundation.

Tobago Hotel & Tourism Association P O Box 295, Scarborough Tel: (868) 639 9543 Fax: (868) 639 9543 Email: Marketing: itstobagotime@gmail. com Website: www.

Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Division of Finance and Enterprise Development Lot 2 Glen Road Scarborough Tel: (868) 635-1203, 635-2989 or 635-1254 Fax: (868) 639-4927 Email: Website:

Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Division of Tourism and Transportation 12 Sangster’s Hill Scarborough Tel: (868) 639 2125 or 639 4636 Fax: (868) 639 3566 Email: Website:; www.

Tourist Information Offices Crown Point International Airport Tel: (868) 639 0509

Cruise Ship Complex Scarborough Tel: (868) 635 0934

Business Trinidad & Tobago  

Business Trinidad and Tobago is an annual publication which highlights the advantages of Trinidad and Tobago as an investment destination. T...

Business Trinidad & Tobago  

Business Trinidad and Tobago is an annual publication which highlights the advantages of Trinidad and Tobago as an investment destination. T...