The ANSA McAL Group expects strong returns from the trade mission its company team made to Europe a month ago. Dr Patrick Antoine spoke last week at a media conference hosted by the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Westmoorings, on a trade mission to Europe. The chamber received funding from the Brussels-based Trade.Com and led a delegation from February 26 to March 7 to Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
The companies in the mission included ANSA McAL, Angostura Ltd, Electrical Industries Ltd (EIL), Infotech Caribbean Ltd, Trinidad Cement Ltd, Trinidad Systems Ltd, Neal and Massy ITC Group Ltd, Intelligent Business Advantage Ltd and PC Consultants. “We came away with four very strong partners for collaboration. We have to look at ANSA McAL as a group within Caricom and also as a potential to penetrate Europe,” he said. “When I heard about the trade mission, I was very sceptical as the Eurozone is about to enter recession, or so we were told. But it was the ideal time to discuss business development ideas and issues that we are grappling with in the private sector in T&T and in the ANSA McAL Group,” he said.
Beers, energy and the EU
Antoine spoke about some the opportunities in the European market the ANSA McAL Group intends to pursue. “The challenges we found are the challenge of competitiveness, a contestable market in the Eurozone and, on the outside, looking for new markets and the export markets and the need to look for new ways of doing things. “Within the ANSA McAL Group, one of the things we concentrate on is the beverage sector. What we found in the beverages sector is that companies have consolidated and they are leveraging their strengths, and what we are trying to do in the Caribbean Development Company (CDC)—Carib and Stag—is leveraging and use our different strengths across the breweries to bring advantage to our shareholders, new products and new ways of doing things,” he said.
Antoine spoke of the possibility of the group’s beers being sold during summer time in two of the countries the team visited. “We found two very good arrangements; one very good arrangement in one country where there is opportunity for a summer beer. Their distribution channels are set up along the coast and that is one benefit we got from this mature sector.” ANSA McAL is also looking to explore joint ventures on biofuel projects. “Interestingly, it came at a time when our group is beginning to act in the area of renewable energy.
We have had these discussions for a while with a company on the cutting-edge of building technology for converting biomass to fuel. Here again, there is one a company we have identified as a potential partner.”
Legal support for trade agenda
Antoine pointed out other experiences the team had in the mission. “There is a need in T&T and Caricom, if we are to capture these opportunities, for legislation. We cannot really make the inroads we need to make in renewable energy, in carbon trading, if we do not have the legislative framework and that, for me, is one of the important things I took away. If we do not have the legislation, we will not have the level of success,” he said. Antoine said he was impressed by the collaboration among foreign companies. He spoke of multinational companies going into places like Russia and signing joint ventures.
Caricom countries, he said, should not view each other competitively. “If we are to address the European market, it is clear for us that outside of the incremental benefits, few companies have the might to make the huge impact in any one of the markets unless we come together. And, in the beverage sector, we were speaking very nicely with one of the companies that was looking for a summer-type beer and Carib was very exciting for them. “We must find a different model that would give us the type of impact to compete in the Eurozone if we are to really secure the benefits of the European Partnership Agreement.”