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More T&T trade sought for post-Brexit UK

Published: 
Saturday, November 5, 2016
James Telfer, honorary chairman of the T&T BCCC, left, with British High Commissioner Tim Stew and the chamber’s honorary vice-chairman Geoff Patton at Thursday’s 15th anniversary celebrations at Jaffa, Queen’s Park Oval, Port-of-Spain. PHOTO: SEAN NERO

British High Commissioner to T&T Tim Stew says efforts to boost trade between this country and the United Kingdom must be intensified. 

In an address at the 15th anniversary celebrations of the British-Caribbean Chamber of Commerce (BCCC) at Jaffa, Queen’s Park Oval, on Thursday evening, he said he plans to seek out new business for the Theresa May administration and the people of the UK.

Stew said it was crucial that his office and the local chapter of the BCCC work closely to find new trade opportunities.

“It was important to support British businesses in this country and win business for the UK but that doesn’t always naturally work and I think we both work at it hard. There are things we have worked on together. A couple of years ago, we had the food and beverage fair here and we are looking at that again,” he said.

Stew recalled an experience he had on a visit to Tobago on Tuesday where “some very excitable members” of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) were promoting opportunities between both countries.

The BCCC is a small organisation with a membership of just over 70 members, many of whom joined the organisation from inception. They include British Airways, BG, Witco, Savannah Computing, Risk Management Services, Unilever, CARIRI, Regency Recruitment and Republic Bank. It operations are funded by membership fees.

James Telfer, honorary chairman of the BCCC said service is at the heart of the group’s activities

“In the early days, few envisioned the importance of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in our energy mix and the effect of tonnage chemical plants to monetise the gas into chemical building blocks. More importantly, few foresaw the dramatic fluctuation of the energy prices in the feast and famine scenario experienced by many producing nations like ours. However, we must face this challenge together and look for mutual benefits wherever possible,” he said.

On the topic of trade, Telfer added, “I have always viewed the relationship with the British High Commission, UK Trade and Industry and the Department of Trade and Industry as crucial to our effectiveness in promoting UK-T&T bilateral trade relations in goods and services and I look forward to increasing this relationship in a post-Brexit UK, as trading partners outside the EU are actively sought and opportunities for inward and outward investment are more actively investigated.”

While the Chamber, as a foreign entity must remain apolitical and does not comment on government’s financial policy or intra-regional relationships, it does promote and uphold values which its members believe should be encouraged for the good of the nation’s and the region’s progress. 

Telfer said: “We echo the results of the 2016/2017 World Economic Forum Global Competiveness Index of T&T, which highlighted the country’s clearly recognised major areas of weakness; poor work ethic; corrupt practices; and unproductive bureaucratic civil service—all major impediments to effective and profitable business management—and from our own admission, not as outsiders looking in.”

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