Region urged to use TIFA accord
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jun 10, CMC –The third annual Caribbean investment Forum (CIF) began here on Monday with delegates being urged to take advantage of the recently signed Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between the United States and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, addressing the opening of the two-day event, said the accord which was signed during the recent visit of United States Vice president Joe Biden to the Caribbean provides an opportunity to expand trade for the benefit of the region, individual states and “every citizen in our respective countries.
“The Caribbean Investment Forum must take advantage of the leverage offered by this renewed international involvement in the region,” she said, adding that Caribbean countries should also seek to take advantage of the opportunities being provided by China as a result of the visit of President Xi Jingping.
“President Xi’s offer of TT$3 billion (One TT dollar = US$0.16 cents) is of particular significance for our national development. And I want to announce today that Trinidad and Tobago would be able to immediately access these funds to accelerate the development of business/commercial and industrial parks throughout Trinidad and Tobago,” she said.
She told more than 100 business executives from leading global companies, as well as regional and international business investors, that Port of Spain will be establishing seven such parks on 592.1 acres of land representing an investment of TT$833 million.
She told the CIF that Trinidad and Tobago had also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the United States Department of Energy, to establish a Renewable Energy Research Centre here so as to promote the rapid deployment of critical technologies for renewable energies to our country and also the wider Caribbean.
Persad Bissessar said that during her recent visit to Canada she took the opportunity to push for public/private sector partnerships and that Port of Spain and Ottawa “have successfully collaborated to organize, for the benefit of the Caribbean region, a public-private partnership (P3) symposium, to assist the governments of the region build capacity in designing and implementing P3 projects”.
She said that in order to develop a “more diversified, knowledge intensive economy” Trinidad and Tobago has created two new institutions related to competitiveness and innovation with the goal being to support human capital development and build knowledge networks.
She said in 2014, Port of Spain will host the annual Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) whose objective is to facilitate the development of businesses and promote the exchange of ideas and knowledge to enable the countries of the Americas to become more innovative, productive and competitive.
Persad Bissessar said that the ACF dialogue reaches the highest levels as delegates comprise of heads of state, governments as well as ministers of finance, trade, planning and key business representatives.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I firmly believe that CARICOM, the wider Caribbean area that includes Latin America are at a critical development juncture.
“Notwithstanding the promises and generous gifts of international partners, and the challenges facing small-island developing Nations like those in the Caribbean, I believe that we are being called upon to display a level of maturity, innovation and enterprise that belies our geographic and resource reality.
“The question we must all ask ourselves is whether we up to the challenge,” she said, adding “the reality is that we have very little choice in the matter.
“Each country may have its own unique limitations but when we work together we have the potential to go further and faster,” she told the delegates to the CIF that is being presented by invesTT, Trinidad and Tobago’s investment promotion agency, whose mission is to develop the island’s non-oil and gas sectors.