Q&A on the Manufacturing Strategy for TTMA website
1) How would you summarise the TTMA’s Manufacturing Strategy?
The Strategy is targeting private sector initiatives that strengthen the domestic market and reverse the downward export trend. The Focus for 2020 is to stabilize market share loss resulting from both Covid 19 and the oil and gas price decline.
There are 7 pillars to manufacturing that initiatives are designed to strengthen. They are: Capital, Demand, Supply, Labour, Technology, Advocacy and Infrastructure. The strategy outlines specific points that require Government support to address to radically improve the ease of doing business.
The focus to grow manufacturing over the next 5 years will insulate us from the cyclical shocks of the oil and gas industry which contributes 40% of our GDP ( 80% of the export), but it only employs 5% of the people. Manufacturing is recognized worldwide to bring stability and sustainability to a country.
Manufacturing in Trinidad and Tobago employs 10% of the population, 52,300 persons, contributing to 20%
($30B) to the GDP and generates $3.5B in Exports.
The strategy was developed with a vision of Trinidad and Tobago: offering an improved quality of life, with safe work environments, skills and training, improved earning potential and strides in innovation.
2) What products do you believe can help to grow the export base and what is needed to make that happen?
Our top five exporting industries are prepared foodstuff, paper/paperboard/pulp related, beverages, minerals and spirits. Together these sectors account for 67% or $2.3B of our exports. The good news is that the principal businesses in these industries have indicated intent on growing both domestic and export market share. Other sectors identified as rising stars are construction, tobacco, printing & packaging and household products
3) What does the TTMA do to support SMEs – and how do they fit into the growth strategy?
TTMA membership increased by 63% over the past 10 years and is now at 550. This growth has been driven by: increases in membership of small businesses (87%) as a result of concerted efforts of the TTMA to attract such members. TTMA membership is dominated by small businesses – 49%. respondents favorably rated the TTMA’s work on behalf of its members in relation to advocacy, market expansion, and trade related issues. But we have heard the SMEs and have worked hard in 2020 to improve on offering education/training, statistical information/data and member development.
SMEs are our target market that we are focused on stabilizing and strengthening in 2020 to ensure we have a strong increase from small to medium and medium to large operations.
4) How is Digital 4.0 critical to sector transformation?
Digital 4.0 as it pertains to manufacturing is an ongoing transformation where you integrate technology into a manufacturing production process to improve productivity and efficiency. The transformation of the process is systemic and begins with the customers’ first interaction with the product before even considering purchasing; marketing, sales, office and supply chain management are integrated into the “Smart” manufacturing process. It is not simply automation or ecommerce but a complete ecosystem that is constantly improving.
The best thing about Digital 4.0 is that it is not exclusive to an industry, or any sector in manufacturing, or even size of the business. It is simply about the process and technology that supports it.
5) Strengthening local market share requires “Buying Local”. Explain how that works.
The promotion of intense collaboration and cooperation between TTMA members by synchronising or redirecting the market and connecting local suppliers with local buyers who may otherwise source materials externally. This will translate into more activity for our local businesses and less demand on scarce Foreign Exchange. The TTMA, working with its members, will strengthen the Proudly T&T brand in ways that inspire and drive our national community to buy local. In addition, the TTMA will be increasing our efforts against illicit trade through our partnership with law enforcers. In this way, we will be creating avenues for growth for local producers who have been battling with illegal goods. This will also allow Government revenues that are currently denied under the blanket of illicit trade.