Five Point Plan to Integrate Trinidad and Tobago /Latin America economies

Port of Spain, Trinidad – Trade and Industry Minister, Kenneth Valley, highlighted five initiatives to integrate Trinidad and Tobago’s economy with those of Latin America when he addressed the conference on “Re-Mapping the Americas- Globalization, Regionalization and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)” earlier this month, at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine.

Minister Valley said government is expanding market access, positioning Trinidad and Tobago as the transportation and financial hub of the region, pursuing the site of the permanent headquarters of the FTAA and recently adopted Spanish as the first foreign language citizens should acquire.

Regarding the FTAA, the Minister said Trinidad and Tobago has many natural advantages that make it desirable for hosting the permanent headquarters of the organization. With Trinidad and Tobago as the center of the Americas, untapped markets can be realized for the Americas through the existing agreements and strengthened partnership the country has with long-established markets, he said.

The Minister said, with Trinidad and Tobago as the transportation hub of the Americas, Piarco Airport, for instance, can be positioned as the alternative hub to Miami, into and out of Central and South America. Trinidad and Tobago’s location is considered a virtual nexus of air routes between North and South America, Western Europe and South America, South America and Southern Africa and to North America.

With the merging of the Trinidad and Tobago’s and Latin American economies the Minister said there was the need to establish Spanish as T&T’s first foreign language. This strategy on the government’s part is to ensure that T&T becomes an effective intermediary between the Spanish speaking south and central and the English speaking Northern sectors.

Another initiative is to establish Trinidad and Tobago as the financial center of the Caribbean, capable of providing the broad spectrum of financial instruments and services needed in the region. To achieve this, government is committed to upgrading the financial sector.

Re-assessing trade options in the hemisphere is another initiative, with the intent of forging greater coordination and merging with other blocs in the hemisphere to promote mutual, economic and social development. Establishing greater coordination and integration with other hemispheric blocs, Minister Valley said, will provide Trinidad and Tobago with added strength and bargaining power for hemispheric and international negotiations.

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