Noting that the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers' Association is the only group to employ thousands of people while bringing in foreign exchange, TTMA President Dr. Rolph Balgobin said there are many opportunities outside the region which must be tapped if Trinidad and Tobago is to get more foreign exchange and increase employment.
"Cuba, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Panama present tremendous opportunities and an even bigger one might lie right next door with the Venezuelans in need of manufactured goods in volumes which most of us would find unthinkable."
Dr. Balgobin, who made the comments at a TTMA Dinner on Tuesday, said local manufacturers should not only rely on assistance from Government, but take the first step themselves in order to grow.
He insisted that locals must begin to support their own.
"We as manufacturers want to encourage the Government, the country, to think local. Not just about local content but about local value added. Support your own. Support the people in this room. Support the people that employ people, pay NIS and PAYE and health surcharge and business levy every day."
In his address to the TTMA audience, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said Government has put things in place for the manufacturing sector to tap various markets in South and Central America with the agreement of a US$50 million deal with Venezuela.
He urged them to create a "foothole" in those markets.
"We of the Government, we have brought the horse to the river. Please manufacturers, reach out with your long and elegant necks and take a sip and possibly a gulp."
Prime Minister Rowley said several countries such as Australia and Germany will be coming here to begin work in different areas - another opportunity for nationals to get into international markets.