039_Global13_Spotlight_Tri&Tob

Global 13

SpotlightTrinidad and Tobago Time to ease off the gas With its booming oil and gas industry, Trinidad and Tobago fared well in the global economic downturn, but the government must act now to move beyond the country’s dependency on its finite resources and focus on diversifying the economy – only then will it sustain growth and stability, increase employment opportunities and reduce its worryingly high crime rate Trinidad and Tobago is the most industrial- shi and involving a local company, Neal and gas industry while developing the pro- ised nation in the Caribbean, and its eco- and Massy, for a methanol complex. ductive and competitive capacity of its man- nomic performance is the envy of its part- That is the credit side of the balance ufacturing, agricultural and service sectors. ners in the 15-nation Caribbean Community sheet. On the debit side, the country suffers These are challenges to which its present (CARICOM). There is good cause for envy. from high crime; it is highly dependent on government is alert and that it has set about At the end of 2011, with a high-income GNI exports of its hydrocarbon resources, which tackling. Trinidad and Tobago’s future per capita of TTD15,040, the 1.3 million will face new competition in the coming growth and development will rest on how people of the twin-island Caribbean state en- years; its manufacturing and agricultural successful the government is in overcom- joyed a low unemployment rate of 5.8 per- sectors are in urgent need of an overhaul ing the challenges. cent, a low debt to GDP ratio of 33 percent, to make them competitive; and its services The country’s positive economic perform- and high gross official reserves of US$9.8 sector, particularly its financial services, are ance is directly due to exports of its hydro- billion (over 13 months of imports). limited to Caribbean markets because of carbon resources, particularly gas, oil and Additionally, the British company, BP, increased pressure on financial centres by petrochemicals, which, in 2011, accounted just unearthed 1 trillion cubic feet of new extra-territorial laws of the USA and costly for 45.3 percent of GDP and 82.3 percent gas; the state-owned company, Petrotrin, regulatory requirements, initiated the Or- of export receipts. But, while the oil and gas recently discovered 48 million barrels of ganisation for Economic Co-operation and industry brings in massive revenues, it em- oil; in December the most successful bid Development (OECD) and enforced by the ploys only 4 percent of the country’s work- round in the country’s history was held with International Monetary Fund (IMF). force. Income is, therefore, unevenly distrib- BHP Billiton of Australia winning rights to Trinidad and Tobago is, therefore, at a uted. Traditional sectors of agriculture and explore in four deepwater blocks; and the pivotal point in its economic development manufacturing have declined, and progress government just signed an agreement with strategy. It has to find ways of maximising has been slow in the development of other a joint venture consortium led by Mitsubi- the benefits of the remaining years of its oil industries that can contribute to sustained globalfirst quarter 2013 www.global-briefing.org l39


Global 13
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