Trinidad And Tobago
OPENING REMARKS: H.E. Pundit Maniedeo Persad welcomes delegates to the Trade and Investment Mission from South Asia at the Hilton, Trinidad. Seated are (from left) e-Teck President Khalid Hassanali, Minister of Trade and Industry Lenny Saith, and Minister of Tourism Joseph Ross


In June, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, led by its High Commission in New Delhi, mounted a trade and investment mission to that twin-island nation. There were over 60 registered delegates in the mission who attended from India, Singapore and Bangladesh. The delegates came from diverse business and trading backgrounds, while there was a specialist group on tourism that was seeking to promote tourism flow between the two nations. Leading the delegation was the very dynamic high commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago in New Delhi, H.E. Pundit Maniedeo Persad, whose initiative it was in the first place to mount the mission. He was supported by the Ministries of Trade, Foreign Affairs, Tourism, Health, the Tourism Development Company and e-Teck in his country.
PHOTO-OP: Ministers Saith and Ross, key men who are crucial to opening up investment opportunities for Indian businessmen in Trinidad and Tobago, exchange greetings

The mission started with presentations from Minister of Trade and Industry Lenny Saith, Minister for Tourism Joseph Ross, President of e-Teck Khalid Hassanali and Pundit Persad. It became evident that Trinidad and Tobago with a population of 1.3 million (Tobago’s share is just 50,000) has the potential to serve as an investment destination not just to cater the market of the country, but as a gateway to the Caricom, Latin and North American markets. It is in this country that L.N. Mittal bought his first steel plant, and the rest is history. It is also here where the Essar Group is committed to setting up an USD 1.8 billion steel plant by mainly procuring raw iron ore from Brazil and shipping the finished steel to the North American market. Recently, the ONGC-Mittal combine has been awarded the rights to explore a gas block in this country. The Bank of Baroda that started operations in October 2007 with a single branch has already announced that it would set up three more in this island nation in the coming few months, such has been the response to its presence in the country. Apart from several one to one business sessions between the visiting delegates and members of the business community in T and T, the chambers of commerce showcased the very large investment opportunities that abound in the country. There were hospitality and lunches and dinners hosted by the e-Teck, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bank of Baroda, FIEO, Pundit Persad and his counterpart, H.E. J.S. Sapra, High Commissioner of India to Trinidad and Tobago.

It became evident that Trinidad and Tobago with a population of 1.3 million has the potential to serve as an investment destination for business interests from India, not just to cater the market of the country, but as a gateway to the Caricom, Latin and North American markets

The Tobago House of Assembly hosted the visiting Indian delegates. Promoted as clean, green, safe and serene, Tobago no doubt presents a tremendous opportunity in tourism development. It has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. A presentation on the Cove Eco-Industrial and Business Park was made by Kenneth Valley, the former Minister for Trade who is a consultant to the THA.

This was the first mission of its kind from India to Trinidad and Tobago, and it was the culmination of some very hard work put in by H.E. Persad and his team in New Delhi. Pundit Persad is now into his fifth year as high commissioner in New Delhi and is concurrently accredited to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Indonesia and Japan. Last year saw a 70 member strong delegation visiting India and the Far East led by Minister Valley. Ties between the two countries have now, with this visit, been taken to the next higher level. It is seen as the natural culmination of a series of high level bilateral visits between the two countries that has involved visits of Vice Presidents, Speakers, Members of Parliament and cabinet ministers from either side.

July 2008

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