‘Time ripe for trade’
By Lara Pickford-Gordon Wednesday, August 8 2012
click on pic to zoom in
Business chat: Lt Governor of the State of Florida Jennifer Carroll (left) chats with Acting Prime Minister Jack Warner and Hazelle Rogers, Democratic...
“The opportunity is ripe, the timing is ripe and the opportunities for the businesses here and the businesses in Florida could be exponential.”
This was the optimistic view of Jennifer Carroll, visiting Lt Governor of the State of Florida as she addressed the American Chamber of Commerce TT business networking luncheon at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain yesterday. Carroll arrived in TT on Sunday and is leading a delegation of 30 businesses from Florida on a three-day visit. The last trade mission from Florida was in 1999 and this was “too long”, she said.
She said the Florida missions were about “win-win” strategies which created opportunities, businesses, jobs and an economic climate beneficial to both countries. She recalled a Florida delegation going to South Africa and encountering skepticism based on past experience with Chinese and others with a “one way engagement.”
Carroll said every TT minister she has interacted with has mentioned diversification of the economy. Referring to TT’s reliance on the energy industry, she said 60 percent of the country’s employee base was in the services sector. “Yet still your GDP is turning over 38 percent. There is a great opportunity there to have either science and technology, manufacturing call centres, and for the 21st century and beyond of job opportunities in the new age and a new generation of things to come,” she said.
Carroll is in charge of Florida’s State’s Space Programme and they are looking at new generation technology for the next manned space vehicle.
She highlighted the opportunities for business through increasing exports. She has visited the port at Pt Lisas and said her team got information on plans for dredging and expansion and getting ready for the Panamax (Panamax and New Panamax are terms for the size limits for ships travelling through the Panama Canal).
“And getting ready hopefully for containers that are leaving Trinidad full. Right now we are missing opportunities at the port we don’t have goods leaving in some of our containers.”
Carroll said the director of the Miami port, Juan Kuryla, visited Pt Lisas again yesterday to get more information “on how we can help them on containers coming out full and we have to look at industries here that can operate in a synergistic way to have the goods from here go to market there.”
According to Carroll with 40,000 residents of TT origin living mainly in the Miami and Orlando area there is a market for goods from TT.
“If we are able to have increases in containers being packed with stuff particularly the provision and hot pepper and cocoa and a number of things we can put our heads together to make this work.”
She shared ideas with acting Prime Minister Jack Warner and said with 19 million people in the state of Florida these ideas could work in TT.
Carroll left after the closing remarks to attend another meeting. An AmCham worker who the media laised with about interviewing her said she would not be responding to any questions on “scandals.” Carroll has had to weather negative press with the recent arrest of her brother- in-law who was charged with allegedly providing prescription pain killers to two drug rings operating between Florida and Kentucky, and prior to this, fallout from comments she made in response to an allegation she was caught in a compromising position with a female member of staff.