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After two years of promoting Trinidad and Tobago’s products via virtual trade missions, expos and shows, exporTT finally returned to physical trade shows on March 23rd, taking Trinidad and Tobago products to Panama for the International Trade Exhibition.
exporTT is the national export facilitation of Trinidad and Tobago, and is charged with, among other things, the promotion of Trinidad and Tobago’s products to viable buyers overseas. exporTT’s attendance at 2022 was funded under the Export Booster Initiative of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
, which is coordinated by the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama, took place from March 23rd to 26th, 2022, and featured over 600 exhibitors from more than 30 countries.
Among them this year, was Trinidad and Tobago.
A wide variety of products in the food and beverage category were on display for visitors to the booth, including candy and mints from KC Confectionery Ltd, pepper sauce, Swiss condiments and pasta, Angostura rums and bitters, crackers and biscuits from Bermudez Biscuit Company, chocolate from ’ Chocolate, malt drinks from the Samba Brewing Company, Toppers snacks and Chubby soft drinks. Associated Brands, who also exhibited at the event, displayed Sunshine Snacks, Sun Mix and Charles Chocolates products at the exporTT booth.
Carib Brewery, Stuart Brothers Ltd and had a virtual presence at the exporTT booth, providing video and written collateral to share with visitors.
exporTT was represented at the event by Ms. Nathali Richards, Senior Business Advisor, and Mrs. Kenika Baldeo, Research Officer, from the Research and Opportunities Unit, as well as Ms. Roann David, Business Advisor, from the Capacity Building and Funding Unit.
Commenting on the reception to the Trinidad and Tobago booth, Ms. David said, “We were pleased that visitors welcomed Trinidad and Tobago as one of the two CARICOM countries in the pavilion. They were eager to sample and receive additional information including pricing and product specification.”
Ms. Richards, who led the exporTT team in Panama, said returning to in-person trade shows was a significant development for the company and its clients.
She said, “Exhibiting in person allows you to receive first hand feedback from a potential lead on the products sampled and exhibited. 2022 gave us the opportunity to re-connect with buyers in Panama and other Central American markets, re-introducing Trinidad and Tobago as a potential supplier.”
Mrs. Baldeo added, “Through this event, exporTT was able to meet with over fifty potential buyers of T&T products within a four-day period; compare this to the ten to fifteen buyers we would have had access to through a consultant on a virtual platform. T buyers hail not only from within Panama but the USA, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and others, totalling ten potential markets that T&T suppliers can have access to.”
“The research portion of this activity also benefited us as we were able to conduct store checks which examined the layout of products within supermarkets and identified competitors as well as meet with key government agencies. We expect that exporTT’s clients will benefit from this activity.”
The team also received positive feedback from the Chargé of the Embassy of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in Panama, Jerome Joseph, who visited the booth at throughout the event and provided support to the exporTT team where needed.
He said, “exporTT had secured a booth for the event and, through that agency, gave a strong showing on behalf of a multitude of manufacturers from Trinidad and Tobago. The excellence of the three-person team from ExporTT must be underscored. Their knowledge of the products being showcased made for fruitful engagement with prospective distributors and buyers. They were well-received at the forum and networked assiduously to garner interest and increase the visibility of Trinidad and Tobago.
It is hoped that participation in future similar forums, including 2023, would include a physical presence from the manufacturers themselves which would serve to enhance Trinidad and Tobago’s level of representation.
All things considered, it is the Embassy’s perspective that exporTT’s high level of engagement at 2022 bodes well to further strengthening trade relations with our Latin American and the wider international business community.”
On Friday 4th March, 2022, exporTT, the National Export Facilitation of Trinidad and Tobago, launched a new funding opportunity aimed at manufacturers.
The Labelling and Product Testing Fund, a project of exporTT Ltd under the Export Booster Initiative (EBI), is designed to facilitate product testing, product and/or packaging modification and labelling redesign required to meet preferences and requirements in export markets.
The fund is aimed at companies that:
Have potential export orders and require testing of products to ensure target market standards are met
- Are seeking to enter new markets where packaging changes are required to meet the entry requirements
- Require testing for nutritional content and regulated substances such as, but not limited to, heavy metals and cadmium
- Need product modifications based on documented buyer or market requirements
- Require their product to undergo physical or formulation modifications in order to meet target market requirements based on buyer preference
The fund will cover 75% of the cost of product testing, product modification, packaging modification and labelling redesign up to a ceiling of TT$80,000 per beneficiary.
According to Crisen Maharaj, Manager of Capacity Building and Funding, the Labelling and Product Testing Fund gives exporters that final push into securing sales for their products in a foreign market.
“Many companies, after they have B2B meetings with prospective buyers, get potential sales but there would be minor requirements to be satisfied before they could actually sales. For example, a buyer would say that the market does not accept bottles of a certain size packaging, or there may be particular that are not socially acceptable for products in a certain market. Companies can incur significant costs to make these changes, especially when dealing with multiple SKUs. This fund will help companies overcome these last set of hurdles in a sale.”
Businesses of all sizes are invited to apply for this funding, as, according to Maharaj, costs incurred by companies in order to meet some of the required standards and certifications for entry into certain markets can be especially prohibitive for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs).
exporTT Ltd will be collaborating with the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association and , in the execution and implementation of this funding for eligible companies.
Interested companies can find more information and apply to the fund by visiting exporTT website – https://exportt.co.tt/lptmf