How China can help revive agribusiness in the Caribbean

Eleanor Sa-Carneiro

Against the backdrop of the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago’s Fine Cocoa Company is setting sail into the waters of China’s booming luxury market. Ashley Parasram, the founder of the fine-flavoured cocoa company behind the venture with China, delves into the “very exciting possibilities,” of a partnership that transcends boundaries in The Qonversation.

Parasram speaks of the allure of the Chinese market, the prospect of reaching a population of 100 million in Shanghai alone is tantalizing. The consistent and burgeoning demand from China can offset any challenges incurred by more volatile markets, such as the traditional consumer markets of the EU and US. “That consistency of market is a key component to leveraging the support you need”, Parasram explains.

The online dominion of China’s populace is a strategic advantage not lost on Parasram, “70% of the population is online, they can buy online”, he explains, “most of your commerce, you don’t need to invest in any retail assets.”

Longstanding ties between China and the Caribbean, and Trinidad and Tobago being the first ever signatory to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, facilitates trade routes and overall logistics. Trinidad and Tobago celebrate their 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations with the Asian giant this year.

“Online, next day delivery, very efficient” he notes, articulating a logistical convenience confirmed by the company’s recent test shipment to Hainan in China. Despite turbulent times for the shipping industry in some waters, with certain trade lanes under revision and delays expected, Parasram confirmed the shipment and operational efficiency was not only successful, but seamless.

China, he notes, is a haven for luxury goods. The likes of Louis Vuitton and Bentley have found a fervent following, and amidst this, the Trinidad and Tobago Fine Cocoa Company envisions its ascent as a purveyor of exquisite cocoa delicacies.

Parasram reminds us of climate change issues and adaptation, and the importance of managing our resources. China alone can buy the bulk of certain agricultural goods, becoming the much-needed market required for the industry to be revived.

With food security as a priority, China becomes the solution to sustainable development and diversification objectives for many a country. The alliance between Trinidad and Tobago’s Fine Cocoa Company and China is not merely a transaction: it’s a tale of diplomacy, commerce, and survival.

Watch the full episode on Qonversations.

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