Trinidad launches a new project to boost competitiveness in the global marketplace

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Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon

PORT OF SPAIN- Trinidad and Tobago has launched a project to build a quality culture in the oil-rich twin-island republic.

The initiative is facilitated with support from the European Union (EU) and the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). It will allow both organizations to engage a broad cross section of the industry to improve the quality of goods and services being produced and exported.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) “Building a Quality Culture in Trinidad and Tobago – Implementation of the National Quality Policy (NQP)” project has been launched through the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS) and will support a series of activities contributing to the overall competitiveness of goods and services produced for export.

It is focused on food and beverage manufacturing, business, professional and Information Communication Technology (ICT) services, agriculture, and agro-processing.

The project will provide a wide range of improvements, such as increasing public awareness and understanding of the national quality policy and creating a deeper consumer understanding of quality concepts and an appreciation for the importance of quality in their daily lives.

CDB’s Director of Projects, Daniel Best, said the project envisions an environment where citizens understand and demand goods and services of the highest standard with a business sector producing what these informed consumers demand.

“The trickle-down effect of this paradigm is a shift in the country’s capacity to produce commodities exceeding international standards… this resulting in increased quality will better position Trinidad and Tobago’s goods and services in the global marketplace,” he added.

Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, who paid particular attention to the manufacturing sector, said manufacturers, in particular, will be encouraged to improve the quality of their goods to become more competitive, resulting in increased demand, increased revenue, and export earnings. “Global purchasers require products and services that meet rigorous and advanced standards of quality to ensure that such products and services integrate flawlessly with others in the supply chain… successful implementation … will … allow manufacturers and service suppliers to attach themselves to global value chains as they become versed in global best practices,’ she told the ceremony.

The EU Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, Peter Cavendish, said it is expected that with the execution of this Euro 143,000 (One Euro=US 1.29 cents) project, there will be enhanced awareness amongst the public of the importance of quality management standards and principles.

He noted this enhanced national awareness could reduce the technical trade barriers, lower costs to trade internationally, increase the competitiveness of local goods and services in the international market, and contribute to the sustainable economic development of Trinidad and Tobago.

The chief executive officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA), Dr. Ramesh Ramdeen, expressed optimism about the project and its proposed outcomes as this would contribute to the sustainability of the manufacturing sector and an increase in the quality and quantity of raw materials for production.

The country’s manufacturing sector is currently comprised of a high concentration of small, medium enterprises (SME), account for over 50,000 employees, and contribute to nine percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The director of Development Cooperation at the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) Directorate,

Desmond John noted that the importance of the project within the broader regional trade and economic integration landscape.

“The objective of the Caribbean regional development agenda is to strengthen Caribbean economies and advance towards integrating our economies into the world economy. Integral to achieving this objective is strengthening our regional integration and development processes, particularly the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME),” he stated.

TTBS executive director, Derek Luk Pat, said that the two-year project would augur well for the entrenchment of and prioritizing high quality and standards in all spheres of industry.

The project activities include a sensitization and awareness campaign for targeted groups and the general population, a quality intelligence and training, and capacity building program for technical staff and stakeholders to support the implementation of Trinidad and Tobago’s National Quality policy, which outlines a framework and road map for the country to improve its trading environment to position businesses to be capable of competing on quality thereby increasing overall competitiveness.

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