Plan unveiled to grow T&T fashion
The time has come for the level of output in the creative and cultural sectors to be measured and quantified, saysacting Permanent Secretary Ministry of Trade Norris Herbert.
Speaking at the launch of a strategic plan for the local fashion industry at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, Herbert said while the energy sector contributed at least 45 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and manufacturing another nine per cent, there is no measurement for creative and cultural sectors.
“Of course, you would know better than anyone there is an output from the sector. It’s just that it’s not captured. If we are talking about diversification, we must be able to determine what contribution this sector is making to national revenue or what we call GDP and having determined that then we need to set out a programme which would determine how we move from four per cent to five per cent or whatever the percentage is. We see that as a very important task as we move forward with the strategic plan,” he said.
The strategic plan for the industry, commissioned by Government and developed by Syntegra Change Architects, was unveiled with a value chain investment programme (VCIP) and identified four critical, but practical areas for growth: future support; selective value chain improvement; incubator and global value chain support.
The T&T Fashion Industry Company Limited (FashionTT) will have full responsibility for implementation and execution of the plan.
According to the document, which addressed the issues of job creation and the capacity for full employment, revenue generation, diversification of the economy and the all important global export possibilities, this country will need to establish at least two firms in the apparel sector by 2021 that are internationally recognised with sales volume of more than $10 million.
Further, the apparel sector will have a strengthened base with improved local and regional sales revenue collectively of approximately $75 million in the next five years.
But for all this to be realised and sustained, Syntegra officials were clear in the plan of the need to build capacity. They identified the need for creation of at least 300 fashion services companies whose staff are beneficiaries of training in critical business development and export readiness programmes over the next five years.
Additionally, 25 new fashion companies need to start exporting to allow this country to become the regional fashion hub.
Under the VCIP, fashion companies will move from inception to development of a brand that is globally competitive.
The framers of the document recognised that at each stage of development companies require different levels of support and assistance from the state. Therefore, Syntegra Change Architects said the VCIP enabled FashionTT will tailor its services to fashion companies to fit their unique needs at any point of the continuum.
The challenge that awaited the emerging fashion industry from outside forces did not escape Herbert, however. He said there were issues related to competitiveness that local stakeholders need to tackle head on whether it came from countries where things were mass produced, or places with a well established history of support for local fashion creators.
Herbert urged fashion stakeholders to find a ways to be competitive and uexplore niche markets.
“Then that takes us to linkages: production, distribution, sales and here I have a very important message. The industry does not belong to those who have already made their way. Not everybody might agree with me, but if the industry is to grow, we have to incorporate many others,” he said.