Foreign investors flock to Port-of-Spain for Caribbean conference
More than 500 delegates from 27 countries converged on Port-of-Spain today for the opening of Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) 2013, the region's most significant discussion on foreign investment.
Caribbean Investment Forum 2013 Day 1
CIF follows high profile visits by US Vice President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, just over a week ago, for talks that concluded with Jinping pledging some US$3 billion in loans to nine Caricom countries, and Biden furthering longstanding US partnership on key initiatives in the form of signed MOUs.
Billed as more than a 'talkshop,' Caribbean Investment Forum, featured plenaries on investment opportunities in agribusiness, ICT, maritime, creative industries and downstream energy.
A seminar on Canada's best-in-class Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model was also convened, with talks focusing on how Caricom could benefit from expanded PPP adoption.
The Trinidad government recently signaled its intention to pursue the PPP model to grow the economy, given the potential for technology and expertise transfers, a reduction in government spending and more robust risk management.
Addressing the seminar, Minister in the Ministry of Finance Rudy Indarsingh highlighted local companies that flourished under a similar model.
These include telecoms market leader Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) in which the government has a 51 percent stake next to Cable and Wireless' 49 percent, and the Power Generation Company (PowerGen) where equity is shared: 39 percent for Maru Energy LLC, 51 percent for the government and ten percent for BP subsidiary Amoco Trinidad Power Resources Corporation.
"Experience has informed an institutional approach to ensuring that our Private-Public programme works," Indarsingh said.
He explained that a ministerial committee had been set up to review PPP projects that were "financially viable and bankable."
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar hailed CIF as "a valuable opportunity for all nations and citizens to strengthen and develop economic partnerships and trade relations."
Persad-Bissessar stressed that sectors targeted for investment would receive her government's attention.
Trade, Industry and Investment Minister Vasant Bharath encouraged investors and governments to take advantage of the opportunities which CIF 2013 presented in spite of global economic challenges.
"Creating the opportunity to showcase mutually beneficial investment opportunities is now a core concern of the government," Bharath said.
Located at the gateway to the Americas, just below the hurricane belt, Trinidad and Tobago is pushing for increased FDI in key sectors.
Given its strategic location and low energy costs, ship repair and dry docking investments look promising, especially with the ongoing widening of the Panama Canal and the impact this is likely to have on trade.
In agribusiness, discussions are focused mostly around opportunities in cocoa, hot peppers and other select crops.
Trinidad also offers one of the most competitive rebates in the hemisphere for creatives who wish to produce films in the twin-island nation. Animation is another exciting opportunity for foreign investors considering the creative industries.
Hosted jointly by invesTT and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment, CIF 2013 continues tomorrow when several regional and international speakers and panelists will lead discussions on opportunities in tourism, nearshoring (BPO) and downstream energy.