NEW YORK – Trinidad & Tobago has created an enabling environment for foreign direct investment and will be moving from “red tape to red carpet.”
That’s the word from the twin-island Republic’s Minister of Trade, Industry, Investment and Communications, Senator Vasant Bharath, who put the spotlight on his country at the 2014 Invest Caribbean Now summit in New York City on June 4th.
Bharath said his country has cut the time to start a business from 43 days to three days and sliced the verification of address process to 24 hours as part of its “Easy doing Business” initiative.
Trinidad & Tobago has also sought to diversify away from oil and gas, growing its financial services, agro-business and creative sectors, Minister Bharath told delegates who included representatives from Merrill Lynch, the World Bank Group; Goldman Sachs, OPIC; Sandals Resorts International; DHL Caribbean, HBO Latin America, One Caribbean Television, First Citizens TT, InvesTT, interCaribbean Airways; Bright Capital; Aegis Capital; Medici Group, Adiuvo Partners LLP, The Lugano Group, The Woody Wilson Fine Clothing of Beverly Hills; Global Med Choices, American World Clinic; Aspenall Energies; MPowered, Sir Richard Branson’s, Carbon War Room; The Goodness Compan, China Daily USA; Caribbean Commerce Magazine; NATCOM International, One Caribbean Television, FlyingICU, GeoTechVision, Auto Planet Japan Ltd., Super Green Solutions, Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, Invest Saint Lucia, K&L Gates, Lu Ning Architecture, New Sports Group, The Pont Group, Damoola Inc., the Chinese American Business Development Center, The Sino-American Friendship Association and the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce.
He revealed that his country’s reserves have doubled to $5 billion and unemployment has declined to five percent. A bond offering in London last year was oversubscribed by a multiple of 10. Four hundred foreign firms operate in the country, including Microsoft, General Electric and BP, using Trinidad as regional headquarters. Location on “Brazil’s doorstep” means that the government is diversifying beyond oil and gas and is now pursuing financial services, tourism and maritime services. A 700-acre economic zone is also being developed.
“It can’t be done incrementally. It has to be transformation,” Bharath told other Caribbean ministers and U.S. and Chinese political representatives including Dr. Ma Lin, Deputy Secretary-General of the Beijing Municipal Government; Premier of the island of Nevis; Vance Amory; Minister of Tourism And International Transport, St. Kitts, Senator Ricky Skerritt; Minister of Tourism, St. Martin, Jeanne Rogers-Vanderpool; Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization and Commissioner of Tourism, USVI Department of Tourism, Beverly Nicholson Doty; Chairman of the CARICOM Consular Corps of NY and Deputy Consul General, Antigua & Barbuda, Omyma David; Consul General of St. Lucia to New York, Julian DuBois; Claire McLeveighn, Vice President, Trade and Investment International Division, at the Empire State Development Corporation and Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia representing the 33rd District of Hoboken, Jersey City, Union City and Weehawken in New Jersey.
Invest Caribbean Now was founded in 2011 by Hard Beat Communications CMO, Felicia J. Persaud. The 2014 ICN summit was presented under the theme, “Advancing Wealth.”
ICN 2014 also included several panel discussions including on ‘Global Trends & The Caribbean;’ ‘Beijing-Caribbean Tourism And Investment Opportunity;’ ‘Introducing The New Trend In Tourism – Medical Tourism;’ ‘Introducing A New Trend In The Caribbean – Clean Energy’ and the Caribbean Diaspora as a source of investment.