India-Trinidad business chamber on cards

By Paras Ramoutar, IANS,

Port-of-Spain : Calling Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) an “economic powerhouse” in the Caribbean, India’s High Commissioner Malay Mishra has said both countries are planning to set up a joint chamber of commerce to boost bilateral trade.

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Addressing the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) India-Caribbean Conclave this week, Mishra said the “creation of the chamber is currently in progress”.

“Its name, India-Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce, has already been registered locally and the high commission has started talks with people interested in becoming members,” he said.

Among the other initiatives, the high commission has set up a business facilitation centre which opened last week, and planning a bimonthly magazine that would disseminate information on India and T&T.

“T&T would benefit as the World Bank has predicted that India would have the highest state of growth by 2010, more than China,” Mishra said.

Emphasising that India’s economic success was primarily on account of its skilled human resources, Mishra said: “India has the youngest population in the world who are very skilled. While populations of other countries would be ageing by 2025, India’s population would comprise of a highly skilled people of 32-35 years.”

He said India would continue its high growth rate in coming years, leaving enough room for enhanced bilateral trade with other countries.

Vinod Surana, who is leading a CII delegation in T&T, said India had taken a series of steps to have enhanced ties with the Caribbean Community (Caricom), a regional organisation set up to promote economic integration and cooperation among its 15 members.

Citing some initiatives India has taken, Surana said it offered concessional credit to promote economic cooperation, distributed educational scholarships to students and sent agricultural specialists to assist in food production.

India also provided assistance in the computerisation of the Caricom Secretariat in Guyana.

Surana added that the Indian government and the industry would provide their full cooperation to Caribbean countries in areas beyond economy to help them meet other challenges as well.

“We shall endeavour to fulfil our responsibility to ensure the economic and overall development of our brethren in the Caribbean Community. CII has been active in Central America and Caribbean Region for a long time,” he added.

About 44 percent of the 1.3 million people in T&T are of Indian origin. According to official records, over 148,000 Indians, most of them from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, migrated to T&T between 1845 and 1917 to work on the sugar and cocoa plantations.