Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Winston “Gypsy” Peters says the Trinidad and Tobago government is currently in talks with Chinese businesses interested in setting up manufacturing plants for Carnival costumes in Trinidad and Tobago.
And two popular bandleaders say they have no problems with the proposed foreign investments but are unlikely to have need for them as they make their own costumes.
Peters, speaking about the levying of duties on imported costumes for Carnival in a television interview yesterday, said discussions have been held with some of the bandleaders who have promised to source more local costumes.
He said, too, “We have people from China who are interested in setting up plants right here in Trinidad and Tobago. Right now we’re in talks with them. They want to come to Trinidad instead of us going to China.”
The plants, he said, would bring jobs and would lower the price of Carnival costumes.
“I know it will create jobs and a sense of pride that it was made in Trinidad and Tobago instead of made in China or made in India,” he said.
Last year, Peters had warned bandleaders that for Carnival 2012, people “who were intent on bringing mas costumes to Trinidad” will have to pay a 2,000 per cent hike on fully assembled costumes.
This has not come to pass.
Two local bandleaders, Brian Mac Farlane and Mike “Big Mike” Antoine told Newsday they had not heard of the Chinese interest but that once the technology was imported and transferred to Trinidadians and Tobagonians, they have no problems with the investment.
Both men said, they got fabric and other materials for costumes from local suppliers. They make their own costumes, and only import materials which are not available locally, they said.
Imported materials include feathers, appliques, beads and rhinestones.
Mac Farlane said that given his design and production system, he would have no need for the Chinese/Trinidad mass production line.
He said if the technology caters for quick production and was cost effective, it would be suitable for bandleaders who do not have the time to monitor their staff in the production of costumes.
“I guess that would be better than what exists now. I don’t have the need to be part of that because of the mas that I do. I will continue to do what I do,” he said.
Saying he “wouldn’t shoot down the idea,” Antoine said, “Let them bring the technology and we do the job.” He said it would be a pity if “we have to lose our traditional way of making mas.”
He suggested that instead of the Chinese coming to make the costumes, “we could use their modern technology with our creativity to create jobs and further export our brand of Carnival to the world.”