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Eximbank's Forex Facility opens in Port Spain



By Geisha Kowlessar

Petroleumworld 05 08

Eximbank's Forex Facility, which was launched yesterday at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain, has been capitalised with US$100 million to fund the operations and import requirements of local manufacturers and exporters.

To qualify, at least 30 per cent of a business's production must be for export and companies must agree to repatriate a suitable amount of their foreign exchange earnings, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said.

“Start-ups of fledgling manufacturers with a lower level of export production but with a feasible export plan will also be considered favourably,” he added.

Imbert said the initial allocation of US$100 million will be reviewed and adjusted as necessary once more manufacturers join the new export promotion programme.

He said the shortage of foreign exchange is not due to Government interventions, or the lack thereof, but the drastic reduction in foreign exchange conversions by the private sector from $US 5.8 billion in 2013 to US $3.6 billion in 2017—a reduction of 38 per cent.

“Much of this decline can be attributed to the downturn in the energy sector, but there has also been a significant reduction in the conversions of foreign exchange by the non-oil sector, which inevitably leads to speculation about hoarding,” he said.

“Fortunately, we are seeing the signs of a recovery in the energy sector, with average daily natural gas production increasing by over 15 per cent over the last 12 months. The gap between supply and demand in the natural gas sector is closing steadily.”

Noting that T&T is a nation of importers and distributors, he said: “ We import everything from food to household goods to cell phones and luxury motor cars.

“Many important businesses in Trinidad and Tobago are net users of foreign exchange. These import-focused businesses employ thousands of people and contribute in no small way to the economy and we must support them as well. In this context, it is noteworthy that most the Government's foreign exchange that is injected into the banking sector by the Central Bank is given by the commercial banks to importers.

“But in the face of a shortage of foreign exchange we must be sensible and prioritise our efforts where they will have positive effects. It goes without saying that successful export businesses increase economic activity, encourage inward private sector investment, generate foreign exchange and much needed meaningful and sustainable employment. It should also be noted that manufacturing currently contributes over 18 per cent of our country's GDP and is thus a vital pillar of our economy.”

Imbert said Government is fully committed to doing its part in providing an avenue for eligible exporters to access foreign exchange to acquire raw materials and other manufacturing essentials or their businesses.

Eximbank chairman John Tang Niam said the theme for the launch, Shifting the export paradigm . . . Facilitating export expansion, was apt.

He said economic diversification is one of the bank's main overarching strategies facilitated by its unique suite of trade financing products, including export credit insurance, raw material and asset financing, factoring and invoice discounting.

Tang Niam assured that each application will be treated fairly and there will be highest level of transparency.

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Story by Geisha Kowlessar from Trinidad & Tobago Guardian
05 07 2018

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