Trinidad and Tobago 3
Trinidad and Tobago. A dazzling pair of Caribbean islands boasting culture, creativity and colour. And this is just the beginning. Underneath the nation’s beautiful exterior lays a land buzzing with opportunity.
First discovered by Christopher Columbus and claimed for Spain, the nation has grown to be one of the most industrialised in the Caribbean, with a reputation for being an exceptional investment spot for international business .
The nation’s history has created a unique and original cultural landscape and a society famously diverse in ethnicity, race and religion. This rich social tapestry has been woven to include many a celebration on the island, be it Christmas, Divali, or Eid, and of course the internationally recognised, illustrious Carnival.
Behind the scenes of these famed celebrations, a varied and competitive economy has grown. Trinidad and Tobago have all the delights one can expect from a Caribbean country, complimented with the professionalism of a major regional player and business centre.
Trinidad and Tobago is one of the most prosperous nations in the Caribbean, and over the years has seen ever-developing expertise of energy and exploration from its large reserves of petroleum and natural gas.
The country has over one hundred and forty years’ experience in energy production, resulting in a capable and knowledgeable local workforce, and has attracted global interest from budding energy economies as well as FDI from international investors.
Investors are being provided with attractive incentives to aid in the exploration of new gas and oil finds and help develop the energy sector value chain, while the Central Bank has continued to keep interest rates low to continue fostering this investment.
Despite the global financial crisis, the local energy sector has withstood the last six years and maintains its position as the driver of the economy. Growth has been fuelled by investments in petrochemicals and liquefied natural gas, with additional up and downstream investment on the horizon . In the last few years, the government has reviewed and approved a new petroleum fiscal regime to improve competitiveness to both local and international investors .
A thriving downstream petrochemical sector in areas such as Point Lisas Industrial estate has encouraged multinational sales and service energy companies to gain a foothold in the country.
The energy sector has also seen a resurgence of activity in their upstream sector. In the two thousand fourteen energy conference, the Minister of Energy the hon. Kevin C Ramnarine stressed the importance of local content, recognising that local companies need a fair chance, much like policies in countries such as Norway.
Seated at the crossroads between North and South America, at the tip of the Caribbean and away from the hurricane belt, Trinidad and Tobago’s prime position makes it an excellent penetration point for trade and international business.
The nation has developed excellent sea, air and ground transport links alongside far reaching modernised telecommunication links, the service of which is among the best in the Caribbean.
In recent years, there has been renewed emphasis on attracting investment through a wide range of sectors, with transport, maritime and ICT ready for expansion, among others.
The maritime and shipping industry has evolved alongside the energy market, supporting growing demand and links between land and sea bases, as well as trade with neighbouring countries. As a result, Trinidad and Tobago supports off shore exploration activity and transportation while developing its maritime expertise and experience.
The sector has weathered the global storm, and to support continued growth the government has developed public private partnerships to leverage opportunities for expansion . Seaport developments have enabled the country to become a major shipment sub-hub of the Caribbean for containerised cargo while on land, major corridors have been developed and expanded to enhance road networks .
Trade and Industry
Having English as the official language makes Trinidad and Tobago a convenient place to do business. The nation has an open investment climate, and the economy benefits from a growing trade surplus with the United States, Trinidad and Tobago’s biggest trading partner. There are further trade agreements with multiple nations including China, Canada, ACP-EU and the Caribbean, enhancing opportunities to penetrate other markets.
There are currently sixteen approved free zone enterprises in Trinidad and Tobago, which include distribution companies and import and export businesses. These have brought new investments and employment opportunities to the country, resulting in increased trade volume. Excluding the oil and gas sector, any business in manufacturing or international trading is eligible for investment through the ‘Free Zones’ program. Foreign private companies in the country pay twenty five percent tax from taxable income, while companies that are eligible for free zone building can benefit from total tax exemption.
The manufacturing sector is well-established and diverse, employing almost nine percent of the population and is considered to be the manufacturing hub of the Caribbean . Heavy industries such as iron and steel, methanol and nitrogenous fertilisers are reputable, but food processing is the largest sub-sector with almost fifty percent of total output and has multiple opportunities for development and exportation of goods.
Step right up. Trinidad and Tobago’s vibrant technicolour culture and rich cultural heritage led to the creation of an event famed across the globe: Trinidad’s Carnival. It’s been dubbed ‘the greatest show on earth’, and those that are lucky enough to experience it tend to agree.
Carnival accounts for around ten percent of the GDP generated from tourism, attracting over two hundred thousand visitors and supporting local creative industries. Visitors can expect to marvel at the impressive display of costumes, local soca music, and hedonism during the busy festivities.
Locals start the celebrations in early December with lively fetes and preparations, building up to the electrifying Panorama steel pan competition in January, and finally, the non-stop week of Carnival just prior to Ash Wednesday. The final run up to the festival sees the nation hold host to parties that well and truly represent the local’s ability to celebrate, be it at Soca Brainwash with DJ Private Ryan, an internationally known DJ, spinning the decks, or Sunny Side Up for the ‘late night into early morning’ revellers.
But it’s not all action, celebrations and music. The islands enjoy a warm tropical climate with one of the best standards of living in the developing world.
While Trinidad is the commercial centre, the islands offer something for every traveller. For those who are seeking a much-needed break, then Tobago is the quintessential tropical paradise. Eco tourism has seen a steady increase, while areas such as Pigeon Point with its coral-filled Nylon Pool offer plenty of activities that allow visitors to enjoy the beauty and diversity of the country’s natural bounty, whether by observing the colourful fish through a glass bottom boat, or enjoying a barbeque on one of the most beautiful beaches in the nation.
There is an abundance of wildlife for nature lovers and ornithologists on both islands, from turtles making their annual nesting pilgrimage ashore, to native birds on the Caroni Swamp Tour, to the buzz of tiny creatures at the Hummingbird sanctuary.
The islands boast many elements to surprise and delight even the most seasoned travellers, such as Pitch Lake with the largest natural asphalt deposits in the world, and the bioluminescent magic of the Ortoire River.
The country’s tourist offering is ever improving, and the Tourism Development Company helps ensure the healthy development and maintenance of the sector.
Home to the main international airport, Trinidad’s Port of Spain should not be forgotten. As the capital city, it’s cultural and historical significance is evident throughout its streets. The discerning traveller can enjoy a wide range of internationally inspired local cuisines at some of the city’s finest restaurants, while undoubtedly hearing the enchanting notes of a steel drum which, as it happens, were first sounded on an oil drum. Business travellers short on time can take advantage of boat trips that visit a sprinkling of islands just off the island’s Northwest coast, known locally as “going down the islands.”
Tourism is a key growth area of the nation, and has maintained an almost intimate scale in its offering. The islands’ authentic and awe-inspiring vibe means it should be at the top of any must-see list.
Trinidad and Tobago is a nation with tremendous potential for economic growth. Its’ dynamic economy has enabled the country to emerge as a major player in multilateral trading systems, and become one of the most prosperous and industrialised in the Caribbean . The government’s pursuit along a path of diversification is creating an environment open for investors , with a range of incentives and policies to increase the benefits of doing business.
Trinidad and Tobago: a dynamic duo