TT Trade Minister reveals that non-energy exports soar
By TT Guardian
Petroleumworld 10 15 2021by
T&T exports are on the up.
After a dismal 2020, when the sudden impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent restriction meant to mitigate the virus’ spread, this country’s export numbers for 2021 have shown real improvement.
According to the Minister of Trade Paula Gopee-Scoon, T&T’s export numbers in the non-energy are even an improvement on its performance in 2019, in a pre-pandemic market.
“During the period January to August 2021, total non-energy exports average approximately $1.3 billion per month, which is in an estimated 43 percent higher compared to 2020. When on average, we would be doing about $873 million. Furthermore. I can tell you with the trend that we have seen, this average has surpassed that for the same period in 2019, which on average was $1.1 billion. As I said, now, we are seeing $1.3 billion,” said the Trade Minister as she detailed the export numbers for fiscal 2021 during the Budget debate last Saturday.
She explained that our local exports have continuously improved according to data posted ttBIZ link.
“T&T registered 36 billion dollars in total Exports for the nine month period October 2020 to June 2021, which is $7.3 billion or 25 per cent more than the than corresponding period in 2020,” said the Senator.
“What has happened between the period July to August 2021. So that there’s a further, $6.1 billion increase in revenues showing a much stronger export base, of both energy and non Energy Products. As a matter fact, when I look at the export levels for fiscal 21 for the 11 month period, ending in August, 2021, I can tell you that we are trending upwards in our exports,” she said.
These figures the minister noted were not being padded by petrochemical exports which have traditionally bolstered our finances such as ammonia, methanol, urea and ammonium nitrate.
She listed products which have done significantly well during the period.
“Our iron steel products, our waste, and our waste and scrap iron exports have gone up, exponentially 102 per cent. Compared with 2020. Another 35 per cent when we look at 2019. Our food and beverage sub-sectors have registered an overall 36 per cent increase over 2020, and we look at the particular products that are doing well our cereals, our aromatic bitters, our non-alcoholic beverages our alcoholic beverages.
“Again, we have seen recovery with those products. And we’ve seen an increase of about 24 per cent compared to last year,” she said while also pointing other products within the manufacturing sector such as plastics, and rubber products that saw increases (up 52 percent), glass products (149 percent), while electrical equipment, machinery and parts, insulated copper conductors (110 percent).
Her reported performance of the non-energy sector is eye catching based on her numbers given during the presentation which suggest the sector had a downward trajectory due to the negative impact the pandemic had on the regional economy and much of our traditional trade partners.
“According to the review of the economy during the first quarter of 2021. The manufacturing sector would have contracted by 10.5%. And we know that is an account of COVID related issues, affecting General trade particularly to some of markets in the region who have really suffered on account of their decline in their tourism sectors,” Gopee-Scoon said.
She noted that trade destinations became more diverse amid the decline in regional trade with products being sent to markets in Australia, Brazil, Netherlands, Canada, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
“That’s the kind of trend that we want. Not depending on the Caribbean region. Still depending on them but of course, moving in the direction extra regionally as well,” she said.
She however stressed that it was important to maintain the Caribbean relationships, as they would remain key components of our economy. However in the interim the Trade Ministry had been making strides in developing new trade routes and was in advanced talks about trade with South American countries Chile and Colombia as well as Panama, the Dominican Republic and China.
“ Trinidad and Tobago would have signed a general framework agreement with a negotiation of a partial scope agreement with Chile in October. This is a market that we’re opening for goods to the extent of of 18 million people. We’re exporting as it is, an average of 1.78 billion dollars to Chile. It is a combination of largely energy, but some non-Energy Products. So at this stage, we have completed the first round negotiation in August 2021 and both sides were to reviewer,” she said,”We would have dealt with non-tariff issues. So we are going to the second round of negotiations in December 2021.”
She added,” We are continuing to work on the CARICOM Colombia, trade economic agreement.”
“We are looking at an extension of products. This is also a good market for us as our exports have averaged in the vicinity of 1.1 billion dollars. And again, we continue to work. I had a meeting with the Minister of Trade in Panama, and we continue to work on that particular agreement as well and to improve our export opportunities there or so. In the Dom Rep we are even looking at increasing our export opportunities and also in China, with particular products.”
But not only were the number of trading partners increasing, but also the number of products being exported is also rising.
She also noted that based on the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act, impact on U.S. Industries and Consumers and on Beneficiary Countries 25th report recently Trinidad, and Tobago’s exports to the United States has also become more diversified.
“That is we began exporting a number of products to the US and became less reliant on exports of just a few products. And that’s what we would have been working on,” she said.
The Minister also announced plans to diversify in another segment, fashion, as trade missions to promote this export potential were being set up for fiscal 22 with destinations including Antigua, Columbia, Canada, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Miami, New York and United Kingdom.