Emerging Markets / August 22, 2017

Trade and Economics in the Caribbean

In 2015, the United States and China, respectively, purchased approximately US$77 billion of South America’s exports to the world. However, since then, China has overtaken the United States as the most important destination for South American exports. Within the wider region of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the United States remains the largest destination for regional exports. Nevertheless, China continues to increase its economic presence and strengthen its commercial ties with Latin America and the Caribbean. Currently, China purchases about 9% of the overall regional exports. Nonetheless, China is the destination of 22% of the exports derived from extractive industries in Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly petroleum, iron ore, and copper ore. This article explores the status of economics and agribusiness in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago.

Trade and Economics in the Caribbean

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is a small archipelago nation located in the southern Caribbean, close to the Venezuelan coastline. Currently, Trinidad and Tobago has a total territory of almost 5.130 square kilometers, which is somewhat smaller than Delaware. The country is mostly flat with some hills and mountains. Likewise, the country has a total population of little over 1.2 million citizens, less than 9% of which live in an urban setting. Even though the capital city of Port-of-Spain has approximately 34.000 inhabitants, Trinidad and Tobago is amongst the minority of countries in the world where most of the population lives in a rural setting. The national annual gross domestic product (GDP) is about US$40 billion (PPP) and the country has experienced negative economic growth in recent years. The national economy is divided into 1% agriculture, 14% manufacturing, and 85% services. Similarly, it is estimated that the agricultural industry employs 4% of Trinidad and Tobago’s labor force, while manufacturing employs 12% and services employ another 84%. Meanwhile, the agriculture industry utilizes 11% of the national territory, while another 44% is forested.

In terms of natural resources, Trinidad and Tobago has petroleum, natural gas, and asphalt. Within manufacturing, the national industry is focused on petroleum, liquefied natural gas (LNG), methanol, ammonia, urea, steel products, beverages, food processing, cement, and cotton textiles. Likewise, an important sector of the economy is devoted to the services and tourism industries. Simultaneously, the country’s agricultural industry has as main products cocoa, dasheen, pumpkin, cassava, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, hot pepper, coconut water, and poultry. During 2015, Trinidad and Tobago imported US$5.9 billion worth of goods and exported US$11 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of US$5.1 billion. Furthermore, that same year, Trinidad and Tobago’s main export, representing more than 50% or US$6 billion of the country’s total, were petroleum products. On the other hand, the country’s main import, representing 6.8% or US$402 million of all international purchases, were special purpose ships and submarines used in the offshore oil industry. In terms of trade, Trinidad and Tobago’s main partners are the United States, Brazil, China, Argentina, and the European Union.

(Read more about Opportunities and Risks in Agribusiness)

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