The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TTCIC) requested a study from TRADECOM to try and identify the causes that inhibit the local private sector from increasing exports of goods or services to Europe as well as the challenges faced in the European market in the context of the CARIFORUM-EC Economic Partnership Agreement. Though the EPA was signed in October 2008, Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of CARIFORUM had begun to enjoy EPA access to the EU from January 2008. The key element in the scope of work involved the distillation of actions to be taken by the private sector, business support organizations and the public sector to increase such exports and the provision of advice to the TTCIC as to how it might best support the export aspirations of its members and the resources it needs to identify and devote to this task. A specific focus was also required on the ITC sector.
The methodology adopted focused on providing some background to the EPA; highlighting the importance of the EU in the global marketplace and in the latter context situating T&T trade with the EU in goods and services; identifying the new opportunities now open to T&T firms under the EPA. Based on a survey instrument covering samples of firms in Goods, Services and ICT, the study sought to determine from the responses the level of interest in and knowledge of the EPA and the EU market; the extent of exporting to the EU and the influence of the EPA; the critical impediments to exporting to the EU at the level of the firm, the domestic economy and in Europe; and the solutions that could support exporting at the level of the firm, the TTCIC, the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association and other Business Support Organizations, as well as at the level of Government.