TTMA’s Recommendations to Improve the Ease of Doing Business in Trinidad and Tobago

The ease of doing business index is widely referenced both regionally and internationally as it relates to regulations that govern business activity across economies. Its 2020 edition ranked Trinidad and Tobago as number 105 out of 190 participating nations relative to the same placement the year prior. Reasoning from this fact, the success of our recently launched Manufacturing Strategy is focused on private sector initiatives but is also highly dependent on improved reform of the regulatory, legislative and infrastructural framework that currently exists. Read more 


Illicit Trade in T&T Alcohol Industry

“Illicit trade continues to deprive local businesses of sales, and every sale counts to keep law abiding people employed and shops open. Illegal sales of alcohol also deprive the country of state funds that support our schools, hospitals, pensions, roads and jobs. Products sold illegally are not checked or regulated are a serious health risks to consumers. Illicit trade affects all consumer goods and products such as clothes, makeup, alcohol, cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, fashion jewelry, food etc. This requires a collaborative effort with public and private sectors addressing the issue with key law enforcement authorities to develop methods to deal with the scourge of illicit trade.” As much as twenty percent of key brands of imported scotch, vodka and cognac are likely to be smuggled into the shores of Trinidad and Tobago through illicit means. This is based on a 2014 study produced by global research centre Euromonitor International. According to the study, illicit alcoholic beverages are defined as those not complying with the regulations and taxes in the countries where they are consumed, resulting in revenue loss, and brand degradation for legitimate manufacturers, as well as reduced tax revenue for governments. Read more


T&T Awash With Counterfeit Products

Managing Director of Bastion Market Intelligence Ltd in Port-of Spain, Roger Montero, believes that if the problems of illicit trade are addressed, then this country can get an improved ranking in the next Global Illicit Trade Environment Index. In a statement Montero noted that illicit trade forms two parts. Firstly, according to him, is the most tangible and includes the trafficking of narcotics, humans, weapons, cigarettes, alcohol, wildlife and so on. The second and most intangible part, he said, is being carried out virtually, and is commonly known as cyber-attacks, where criminal elements hack into your computer or mobile systems and can hold you to ransom. This involves the use of malware, spyware and password hacking. “It is becoming more and more pervasive,” Montero said. Read more


Illicit Trade: The Criminal Element and Law Enforcement 

Trinidad and Tobago is a breeding ground for illicit trade activities, with its lucrative commercial market, unsuspecting consumers, and its under resourced authorities who are left to determine what are illicitly traded goods and products. If these problems are addressed, then perhaps, this country can get an improved ranking in the next Global Illicit Trade Environment Index. The index, produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit and Commissioned by the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade was last published in 2018, and ranked T&T as number 75 out of 84 countries. The index measures the extent to which economies enable (or inhibit) illicit trade through their policies and initiatives to combat illicit trade. It examines four main categories: government policy, supply and demand, transparency and trade, and the customs environment. Read more


Illicit Trade: What is Contraband and Why is it an Issue?

The illicit trade of goods manifests itself in different ways, including counterfeiting, adulteration of goods, and tax evasion. These are clear violations of any country’s laws – and certainly here in T&T. However, there are some violations that are not as clear - among those is contraband. Contraband is defined as a product that has been illegally imported from one jurisdiction and sold in another. By definition, a contraband product is not necessarily a product that is of poor quality, since such products are manufactured according to regulations of the originating country and designed for sale and consumption in the specific locales. Read more 


TTMA commends St Lucia crackdown on Illicit Cigarettes

The TT Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) has commended St Lucian authorities for taking swift action against illicit cigarettes. In a recent swoop down on products that do not conform to regulations, officials issued a public advisory to stop consumers from purchasing Zon (king size full flavour 20 class filter) cigarettes and vendors were asked to cease sale and distribution and to submit any stocks in their possession for disposal. The Bureau of Standards also stated that it would prosecute anyone found selling or distributing this product. The brand has also been seen on the market in TT. TTMA president, Franka Costelloe, said via a release on Friday that the action by the St Lucian authorities is a step in the right direction. "It is in the consumers’ interest to purchase regulated products deemed safe by the appropriate regulators. Consumers must stop supporting products entering any country illegally, jeopardising our safety and ultimately eroding local business that are compliant and committed to free and fair trade.” Read more


Impact of COVID on Illicit Trade

There is no doubt the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will have profound effects on the world, most particularly organized crime and illicit trade. The early ramifications of the increasingly susceptible, and some criminal groups are already using the restriction on movement as an ‘opportunity’ to increase their illegal activities. For example, as Governments attempt to curtail free movement to stop the spread of the virus, the police and army are being utilized for enforcement, but at the same time struggling with lack of manpower, social distancing measures and diminished resources. Instances where the state’s reach may be weak, agreements with criminal bosses may be harvested in order to enforce social distancing and even public order. Read more

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