Trinidad and Tobago - Market OverviewTrinidad and Tobago - Market Overview
Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, the U.S. market share, the political situation if relevant, the top reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to this country, and other issues that affect trade, e.g., terrorism, currency devaluations, trade agreements.Last Published:7/20/2019
The two islands of Trinidad and Tobago (TT) are located in the Lesser Antilles, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. TT is a high-income developing country with a GDP per capita of over $16,000 and an annual GDP of $22.1 billion. It has the largest economy in the English-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and is the third most populous country with 1.4 million inhabitants.
Energy exploration and production drive TT’s economy; this sector has historically attracted the most foreign direct investment. The energy sector usually accounts for about 40 percent of GDP and 80 percent of export earnings, but these figures have fallen dramatically since 2015. The country is slowly emerging from a recession that began in 2015 and was caused by a drop in gas production and lower energy prices.
Economic growth and productivity remain low, despite rising global commodity prices and various energy projects that increased natural gas production. Both factors have provided the Trinidad and Tobago government with greater than anticipated revenues.
TT’s investment climate is generally open and most investment barriers have been eliminated. Major issues affecting companies are an ongoing foreign exchange shortage, inefficient government bureaucracy, crime, poor work ethic in the labor force, and corruption. Some foreign investors have seen the decision-making process for tenders and the subsequent awarding of contracts turn opaque without warning, especially when their company’s interests compete with those of well-connected local firms. TT has an undiversified economy and lacks economies of scale, so it depends heavily on imports.
Despite its challenges, TT is buffered by significant, though declining, foreign reserves and a sovereign wealth fund. It is also the world’s largest exporter of ammonia, second largest exporter of methanol and the sixth largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
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