The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) has re-elected Toni Sirju-Ramnarine, Vice President of Corporate Operations at Atlantic LNG to another term as President of the Chamber at its 29th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on June 22nd, 2022 at the Hilton Trinidad & Conference Center.
This was the first in-person event hosted by AMCHAM T&T since COVID-19 was identified within T&T’s borders. Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Brian Manning and CEO of IDB Invest James Scriven delivered the Keynote and Feature addresses respectively. The AMCHAM T&T AGM attracted Executives from several members with Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee Scoon and Opposition MP Rushton Paray, who shadows Trade and Industry as well as Permanent Secretaries and members of the diplomatic corps also attending, highlighting the ability of the organisation to create avenues for dialogue among different stakeholders.
“Thank you for the faith and confidence you have placed in me over this past year as President. I look forward to working and growing with you in the coming year,” Sirju-Ramnarine said in the President’s Remarks as she also commemorated the organisation’s 30th Anniversary with the members of AMCHAM T&T. “We are celebrating our organisation’s 30th Anniversary. AMCHAM T&T thanks each of you for your unwavering support and we look forward to another 30 years of more wins shared with you.”
Sirju-Ramnarine who spoke on the theme “Enabling Recovery, Growth, and Resilience in the context of Sustainable Development in our nation,” during her opening remarks mapped out four (4) high-level priority areas in which AMCHAM T&T intends to offer increased leadership and advocacy. These are: 1) Investing In Technology, 2) Developing a Nearshoring Strategy, 3) Promoting Environment, Social and Governance (ESG), and 4) Advocacy for the Rule of Law.
Investing in TECH
While challenges from the pandemic have accelerated digital adoption across many companies, Sirju-Ramnarine says we must now start leveraging new technologies and applying them across all sectors of the economy to equally benefit all companies and ensure that technology becomes a real enabler for innovation and development.
“Building a thriving tech sector requires greater investment in research and development, advancing education, bridging the digital divide, and creating an easier regulatory environment to enable our entrepreneurs to start businesses more easily,” Sirju Ramnarine said. “Both the private and public sectors have to do this together, but we must make this a major priority within our operations and as part of our country’s economic agenda.”
AMCHAM T&T is also working with the government, alongside other agencies to execute the strategies outlined in a Nearshoring Policy paper which was recently presented to the Minister of Trade & Industry and the Minister of Digital Transformation.
AMCHAM T&T’s investment in this strategy is linked to national digital transformation, and to diversify the economy and attract investment in T&T. “Developing a nearshoring sector amidst the instabilities shaping our world right now may work in our favour as companies seek to move operations closer to home because of ongoing conflicts, supply chain concerns, the issues highlighted by the pandemic and climate change,” Sirju-Ramnarine said. “The potential here for the development of this sector will result in viable export, foreign exchange earning opportunities, and increased jobs.”
Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) and Rule of Law Committees
To set the stage for recovery and growth towards sustainable development, AMCHAM T&T also launched two new committees during the AGM. The ESG Committee and Rule of Law Committee will feature leading experts and influential organisations offering best practice advice and information on current issues affecting the realms of ESG and providing additional resources, skills sharing, and knowledge transfer to maintain the Rule of Law in our nation.
Sirju-Ramnarine said key investors, stakeholders and policymakers are now looking at companies with built-in, measurable ESG policies as a prerequisite for investment which have been threatened by the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.
The AMCHAM T&T President also said the key to an attractive and welcoming business environment begins with the predictable application of laws, policies, and processes which are being eroded by corruption – both actual corruption and the perception of corruption – a painfully slow justice system, and violent crime.
“We cannot build a resilient and cohesive society or conduct business in the absence of citizen security, fairness, and access to justice,” Sirju-Ramnarine said. “We must all work together to create a society rooted in good governance and high levels of social mobility and equality so that our citizens are made to feel safe, our businesses can thrive, and the economy becomes more efficient and attractive to investment.”
Sirju-Ramnarine says these initiatives can be realized by more meaningful public-private partnerships geared towards national development initiatives, upgrading the existing infrastructure to develop a booming tech hub and drive economic growth derived from nearshoring opportunities, addressing concerns at the ports and with customs to improve the ease of doing business and attract greater investment, and strengthening our cybersecurity frameworks to create the necessary regulatory and legislative environment to facilitate these objectives.
2022-2023 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
At the 29th Annual General Meeting (AGM), AMCHAM T&T elected the following Board of Directors for
the term 2022 – 2023:
• PRESIDENT – Toni Sirju-Ramnarine – VP Corporate Operations, Atlantic LNG Company Limited
• VICE PRESIDENT – Stuart Franco – Chief Executive Officer, The TSL
• VICE PRESIDENT – Angelique Parisot-Potter – Executive VP and General Counsel, MASSY
• SECRETARY – Glenn Hamel-Smith – Partner, Head – Banking and Finance, M. Hamel-Smith & Co.
• TREASURER – Tricia De La Rosa – VP, AML/ATF & Compliance, Scotiabank Trinidad & Tobago Limited
• Anna Henderson – Chief Executive Officer, AMARANTH Business Solutions
• Andrea Davis – Country Manager, DHL
• Gregory Hill – Managing Director, ANSA Merchant Bank Limited
• Dominic Rampersad – President, Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd.
• Giselle Thompson – VP, Corporate Operations, bpTT
• Patricia Ghany – Chief Financial Officer, Esau Oilfield Supplies Co. Ltd
• Simon Aqui – Business Development Executive, IBM Trinidad
• Greer Quan – Chief Executive Officer, Caribbean, Pan-American Life Insurance Group
• Mitchell De Silva – Citi Country Officer – T&T Hub, Citibank
• Jerome Dookie – Managing Director, Proman Limited
• Stéphane Picarle – General Manager Commercial, Shell Trinidad & Tobago Limited
Chargé d’Affaires, Shante Moore, U.S Embassy Trinidad & Tobago – Ex-Officio position
Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T – Ex-Officio position