TTMA president Franka Costelloe

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By the year 2025, the T&T Manufacturers Association (TTMA) has revealed that its newly launched manufacturing strategy would produce 40 large manufacturers, who should in turn, be exporting $4billion in value.

Speaking yesterday at the virtual launch of the TTMA’s Manufacturing Export Strategy, TTMA’s President Franka Costelloe said: “Today 20 of 1,154 companies represent $2.9B in exports, that is 80% of exports. To grow, we need more. We believe that the manufacturers amongst our 890 SMEs are going to do that for us. By 2025, we should have 40 companies contributing $4b in export.”

According to Costelloe, T&T’s SMEs are the country’s next generation of business and bigger companies need to partner in our thrust for a stronger, sustainable non-energy sector.

Costelloe added that over the past 10 years the average cumulative export growth has been 3%.

She said the pre-Covid-19, the intent was to double 2018 export figure of $3.5B by year-end 2025, but in year 2019, the country saw no increase over 2018. Furthermore, Costelloe contended that 2020 has realised a 60 per cent decline when compared to 2019.

In order to reverse the trend, Costelloe said: “We must forge ahead with our vision to stabilise, strengthen, and secure.”

The TTMA president said that this is imperative to protect 52,300 jobs, which represents 10 per cent of T&T’s working population, and to create alternatives to oil revenues as the energy outlook remains unfavourable.

Costelloe contended that diversification of revenue to balance manufacturing with oil & gas is essential for the country to stabilise, noting, “the priority must be on Manufacturing.”

Also speaking at the launch, Minister of Trade and Industry, Paula Gopee-Scoon said that manufacturing is a very important pillar and a key driver of competitiveness in the economy as it is a major contributor to the country’s GDP and is a net foreign exchange earner.

She said that in 2019, the sector contributed just over TT$30 billion or 19.4% of GDP, growing by 0.3%. Gopee-Scoon added: “During the first quarter of 2019, manufacturing activities continued to improve by recording an expansion of 4.9%.”

The minister noted that the unexpected and unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, whilst highlighting the Sector’s tremendous value, has also exposed the fragility of manufacturing supply chains internationally.

She continued: “The Covid-19 Pandemic has no doubt had a significant negative impact on economies globally, but it is with great resolve, careful management and decisive leadership, that this country continues to power through this challenge and herald in a stronger and more transformed economy.”

Gopee-Scoon acknowledged that the government is in full support of the TTMA’s launch, as the export plan represents a harmonised approach, which bodes well for the continuity and expansion of the Sector.

The TTMA’s strategy, which was formulated based on collaborative research shared by Ernst and Young, comprises three phases – stabilise, strengthen and secure.

Phase one of the strategy will look at stabilising the domestic market, phase two of the implementation, will recapture and recover the pre-Covid export market share and phase three, will be refocused on growing exports by targeting and securing new markets and connecting members through business to business (B2B) arrangements.