Trinidad and Tobago: The Caribbean’s economic leader

| October 4, 2012 | 0 Comments
Trinidad and Tobago has earned a reputation as an excellent investment site for international business.

Trinidad and Tobago has earned a reputation as an excellent investment site for international business.

By Philip A. Buxo

Trinidad and Tobago is open for business.
Not only is our twin island democratic republic located at the crossroads of the Americas, but we also have access to regional and international markets through multiple trade agreements. Trinidad & Tobago (T&T) is not just the leading Caribbean producer of hydrocarbons, it’s also a world-class competitor and Latin American hub for them.

A respected financial centre in the Caribbean, with one of the highest growth rates in Latin America, T&T has earned its reputation as an excellent investment site. Our low energy costs, educated, skilled and competitive labour force, coupled with our access to highly developed communications infrastructure and fiscal incentives, are some of the competitive advantages we offer Canadian investors.

T&T, with a population of approximately 1.3 million people, can be best described as the most advanced and dynamic country in the English-speaking Caribbean. Not only are we the world’s largest producer and exporter of methanol and ammonia, but we are also home to the invention of the steelpan and the host of one of the greatest Carnival celebrations in the world.

The year 2012 is a significant year — we celebrated our 50th anniversary of independence Aug. 31 as well as 50 years of formal diplomatic relations with Canada. The trade, immigration and cultural exchanges that have taken place between our countries have formed a strong foundation.
Today we look forward to strengthening this relationship through partnering with CIDA in the areas of public-private partnerships (PPPs) and disaster aid and preparedness. We recognize the importance of PPPs for improving the quality and quantity of basic infrastructure and for opening up opportunities for Canadian private-sector investment in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region. PPPs can assist with maximizing the efficiency and innovation of private enterprise and with technical, managerial and institutional capacity within key government ministries and agencies. We are working diligently with CIDA on developing a regional project for the provision of PPP training.

T&T has also offered to partner with CIDA in the delivery of its disaster aid and preparedness projects in the Caribbean region. This furthers the leadership demonstrated by T&T through our commitment to regional integration, regional security and disaster relief. We have always provided assistance to countries in the region which have experienced natural disasters, and, in 2010, created a policy of emergency assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Tomas in St. Lucia.

We look forward to the further expansion of economic ties between T&T and Canada. T&T is Canada’s largest merchandise export market and second largest import partner in the CARICOM region. Bilateral trade figures reveal that in 2011, the total value of imports to Canada from T&T was Cdn $388 million, while the value of exports from Canada to T&T was Cdn $341 million. T&T exports have more than quadrupled in value over the past decade and are concentrated in the sectors of petrochemicals and minerals, which account for 72 percent of the value of T&T exports to Canada; iron and steel products, which account for 25 percent of exports, followed by agriculture and fisheries products.

The main opportunities for economic growth, cooperation and investment between T&T and Canada are in the energy, health and education sectors. |

In energy, we have identified five opportunities for potential Canadian investment. These include joint venture partnerships in the exploration of projected oil reserves; partnering with Canadian companies to use environmentally friendly technologies, such as steam assisted gravity drainage in the development of our heavy oil reserves; investment in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects in T&T; the further development of compressed natural gas (CNG) as a major alternate vehicular fuel in T&T; and the further development of the melamine industry of T&T. An additional area of cooperation targets the supply of energy workers from T&T to Alberta’s energy sector.

In the health sector, a framework agreement between T&T and Canada was recently signed during the state visit of Gov. Gen. David Johnston. This agreement will support the increasing interest of Canadian companies in the development of the health care industry in T&T.

In education, T&T has been pursuing relationships between our tertiary institutions with like-minded institutions in Canada. A memorandum of understanding between the University of Trinidad and Tobago and the Marine Institute of Memorial University was recently signed, with the aim of developing a regional centre of excellence in marine education and training.

T&T remains committed to creating a healthy and competitive business environment that attracts both domestic and foreign investment.

For further information on trade-related activities and investment opportunities, please visit www.investt.co.tt.

Philip A. Buxo is high commissioner for The Republic Trinidad and Tobago. Reach him by email at ottawa@ttmissions.com or by phone at 613-232-2418.

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