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Overview of Trinidad & Tobago

Trinidad & Tobago is located off the northeast coast of Venezuela. The country consists of two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and 21 smaller islands. Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the main islands and Tobago is much smaller, comprising about 6% of the total area and 4% of the population.

Fast Facts 

   
   

 President:  

George Maxwell Richards

 Prime Minister:

Kamla Persad-Bissessar

 Capital City:  

Port of Spain

 Official Language: 

English

 Exchange Rate:

US$ 6.21 = 1.00

Area

5,128 sq. km. (1,980 sq. mi.), about the size of Delaware. Trinidad--4,828 sq. km. (1,864 sq. mi). Tobago--300 sq. km. (116 sq. mi)

 Population:

1,303,188

Climate:

Tropical

Airport:

Piarco Airport

Major Ports:

Port of Spain and Point Lisas

Market Overview

  • Trinidad and Tobago has a favorable and open investment climate and most investment barriers have been eliminated.
  • Trinidad and Tobago experienced another economic contraction in 2009 and expects minimal growth in 2010. After a 3.5% decline in 2009, Real GDP growth is expected to increase by 2.8% in 2010.
  • The manufacturing sector expects a modest growth of 0.1 percent, settling at 8.4 percent of GDP. The government of Trinidad and Tobago expects minor fluctuation in the manufacturing subsectors. For instance food, beverages and tobacco from 4.1 percent in 2009 to 4.0 percent in 2010, whereas textile, garments and footwear should remain steady at 0.2 percent in 2010, as should wood and related products at 0.1 percent. Chemical and non-metallic minerals should also be constant at 1.4 percent while assembly type and related industries should experience a slight bump from 1.5 percent in 2009 to 1.7 percent in 2010.
  • Tourism is a major generator of employment, an increasingly important source of foreign exchange. The Tourism Development Act was amended in 2005 to provide tax holidays and other incentives to investors with tourism projects. Tourism has been emphasized as a key sector for development and investment by the People‘s Partnership government, yet the distribution and restaurant sector should contract from 10.6 percent in 2009 to 10 percent in 2010. Hotels and guesthouses are expected to maintain 0.2 percent of the GDP in 2010.
  • The construction and quarrying industry contracted in 2009 and 2010 with most major construction project completed or near completion, and slow-down of private and public construction projects. The sectors contribution to 2010 GDP is anticipated to be 7.0 percent, down from 7.7 percent in 2009. A recent loan of US$1.5 million from the InterAmerican Development Bank, however, is targeted at several construction sectors and may provide a substantial stimulus to the industry in 2011 and 2012.
  • The Financial Services sector continued its 2009 contraction in 2010 with a shift from 13.0 percent in 2009 to 12.8 percent in 2010. Output growth is projected to decelerate in the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sub-sector reflecting slow growth in the commercial banking and non-bank financial institution and decline in real estate and other miscellaneous services. Additionally, the fallout over the government‘s mishandled bailout of investment firm CLICO has shaken confidence in the sector generally.
  • The government launched TTBizLink (https://www.ttbizlink.gov.tt/) in an attempt to streamline the requirements for doing business in TT. Designed to facilitate business and trade, companies/individuals who wish to import/export goods, apply for permits and licenses, register a business or conduct other business related activities can submit their documents online via this website.
  • As of December 2010, headline inflation jumped to 14.1, a significant increase from 1.3 percent a year earlier. Food prices, driven up by flooding in early 2010, forced prices up generally. Vegetable prices increased by 52.5 percent, fruits by 37.9 percent, and salt and spices by 82.4 percent. Price increases for transport (12.1 percent) and recreation and culture (13.6 percent) also contributed to the spiral of inflation.
  • In 2009, TT recorded a balance of payment deficit of US$712.6 million representing a significant decrease from US$2,7505.5 million in 2008.
  • Current account surplus decreased from US$8,791.9 million in 2008 to US$1,759.1 in 2009, due mainly to a major decrease of in merchandise trade.
  • At the end of 2009, TT's gross international reserves stood at US$8,651.6 million representing the equivalent of 11.9 months of import cover.
  • Unemployment reached 6.4 percent in 2010, an increase from 5.3 percent in 2009, but many observers believe the unofficial rate to be as much as two times higher.
  • From October 2009 to March 2010 the country recorded a trade surplus of approximately US$1,248.2, a significant decrease from the previous year‘s US$6,200.4.
  • The United States continues to be TT's leading supplier/market, accounting for 26.1 percent of TT's imports and 44 percent of exports in 2009.
  • English-language workforce.
  • Good investment climate.
  • Stable democratic political system
  • Rule of law and respect for contracts are well-established in business practices.
  • Strong political, economic and cultural ties with the U.S.

Best Prospects 

  • Oil and Gas Field Machinery and Services
  • Food Processing & Packaging
  • Automotive Parts and Services
  • Telecommunications
  • Computers and Peripherals
  • Construction
  • Tourism