Industry Minister: T&T must spend on research

(TrinidadExpress)Trinidad and Tobagoneeds to invest millions of dollars on research and development (R&D), so the country can gain more when it exports its products.

Trade and Industry Minister Stephen Cadiz said yesterday at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) hotel in Port of Spain that it was the “curse of the oil and gas industry that this country just sat for years collecting rent” without fully developing other sectors like manufacturing.

Cadiz delivered the feature address at a presentation of research findings by a team from the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Manufacturing—part of the Engineering Department—on sustainable industries for emerging economies.

Cadizsaid other companies were putting money into R&D, experimenting with our raw materials and discovering innovative ways to use them, but T&T “has constantly made the mistake of shipping out our raw materials and importing it back in another form”.

“We need to invest tens of millions into R&D so we gain every time our product moves,” he continued.

Cadiz used asphalt, a commodity readily available in Trinidad by virtue of the Pitch Lake and how a company he was dealing with requested to use the raw material for a product but seeing the inefficiency in their usage, went back to the drawing board and switched an initial 25 per cent utility into a 75 per cent productive use of asphalt.

“When I heard this, I thought, where is our R&D? Other companies are going into R&D, how come we did not know this? How come we are not selling them our R&D findings from the last 100 years? Where are our patents? We should be making money on every kilo of raw material we export,”Cadizsaid.

He said this budget, he would be making suggestions for improving R&D, and he hopes that the proposals are accepted.

Cadizsaid Cabinet was in tune with the issue of diversification, but cannot dictate what should be done.

“We will create opportunities and hope people will take advantage of that,” he said. “One of my duties is the whole diversification exercise- it’s about getting the population to really buy into this.”

“We are great importers- we import everything. Let’s get back into creating and developing- it’s inherent in us,” he added.

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