The Washington D.C. ‘Spring Meetings’ of 2018 included the 189 Nation IMF and The World Bank Group, while on the other side of the Atlantic, Queen Elizabeth II convened the CHOGM in London. In Washington D.C., the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) stressed that domestic demand will play a big role in accelerating growth. ECLAC projects a 2.2% expansion of economic activity in 2018 but warned that growth will be uneven across ECLAC countries and sub-regions.

IMF chief, Christine Lagarde, in her meetings with the G20 macroeconomic club that accounts for 80 per cent of global economic output, cautioned developing economies to be mindful of the smouldering trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies as this is bound to transmit turbulence and uncertainties. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin insisted however that the tariffs will increase equality.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the TTMA also held its annual general meeting in April 2018. CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, said that Trinidad and Tobago commands 32 per cent of CARICOM’s intra-regional trade amounting to US$734M. However, it was the lowest trade figure in 13 years and it represented 10 per cent of T&T’s global exports. This meant that CARICOM was Trinidad and Tobago’s second largest export market in 2017.

In 2014, the Government of Canada funded a CARICOM Trade and Competitiveness Project (TCP) to integrate national markets of Member States into a single open market. The CSME Application Processing System (CAPS) is a project within the boundaries of the TCP that aims to facilitate the movement of skilled persons and temporary service providers by efficiently processing a significant number of documents which fall under the different processes.

CAPS is a component of the larger initiative to make the freedoms under the CSME more accessible in addition to ensuring efficiency and effectiveness in the processing of these liberties. CAPS also responds to mandates, as captured in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which calls for the modernisation of bureaucracies. CAPS is an integrated, web-based ICT platform which will facilitate the movement of skilled people, temporary service-providers and business people across CARICOM states, by efficiently processing documents related to the Verification of Skilled National Certificate, Change of Skilled National Certificate, Application for Service Provider Certificate, Change of Service Provider Certificate and Movement under the Right of Establishment. This will facilitate the free movement of skill, the free movement of services and the free movement of capital and other related provisions within CARICOM. The approved CARICOM Qualifications Framework, with its ten levels, is at the heart of this market restructuring initiative. This means that Trinidad and Tobago’s National Qualifications and Credit Framework must be finalised.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the varieties of credentials compliant with standards from multiple jurisdictions present a challenge to completing a National Qualifications Framework. Some credentials meet the Canadian Red Seal standards. The master craftsman and journeyman are awarded against German standards, and City and Guilds qualifications are compliant with UK standards. An enduring problem has been the mapping of any qualification at a particular level within a particular standards framework from an offshore provider that has cross-border recognition to a nationally evolved and regionally recognised standards framework. Fully integrated web-based systems like CAPS will connect CARICOM manufacturers and employers seamlessly to capital, services, talent, skills and capabilities.

If the TTMA becomes a partner in driving the implementation of CAPS it could facilitate the creation of a viable talent and capital conduit for trade, industry and commerce to flourish. Alongside CAPS the state may consider buoying R&D with local government support, advanced infrastructure and preferential policies covering taxes and R&D expenses that take advantage of regional talent capture.

Changes in technology, trade and globalization actively destroy and create new jobs. Adjusting to these changes with CAPS can contribute to competiveness, productivity and labour market outcomes.