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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/exporting-to-trinidad-and-tobago/exporting-to-trinidad-and-tobago
1. Trinidad and Tobago export overview
Trinidad and Tobago has one of the highest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) rates in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is the largest in the CARICOM economy.
Contact a Department for International Trade (DIT) Trinidad and Tobago export adviser for a free consultation if you are interested in exporting to Trinidad and Tobago.
More than 140 years in oil and gas has helped establish Trinidad and Tobago as a strong economy.
The country’s economic policies favour trade liberalisation and foreign investment. About 400 multinational organisations have physical offices in Trinidad and Tobago. This includes over 50 British companies.
Benefits for British businesses exporting to Trinidad and Tobago include:
- no market barriers to trade
- regional manufacturing hub and a gateway to South and North America
- educated and skilled, English speaking workforce
- legislation is based on UK common law
- regulated financial system
Strengths of the Trinidad and Tobago market include:
- largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the English speaking Caribbean and second largest in Latin America and the Caribbean
- ranked first for FDI cost-effectiveness amongst Caribbean and Central American countries in its peer group (out of 29 countries)
- good transportation and communication links
- low energy costs
- highly developed industrial, energy and steel sectors
2. Challenges doing business in Trinidad and Tobago
There aren’t many restrictions to investing in Trinidad and Tobago. However, as with most markets, there can be some challenges. These include:
- crime and security issues
- inefficient government bureaucracy
- poor work ethic in the labour force
- inadequate infrastructure
- access to financing
3. Growth potential
3.1 Economic growth
Trinidad and Tobago has one of the best performing economies in the Caribbean. This is mainly due to:
- good fiscal management
- large oil and natural gas reserves
- a strong manufacturing sector
3.2 Free trade agreements
Enhanced market access in Latin America is available via:
3.3 Other bilateral arrangements
There are other bilateral agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) between Trinidad and Tobago and the UK. These are:
- double taxation agreement
- investment treaty for the promotion and protection of investments
- Information and Communications Technology (ICT) MOU
- healthcare sector MOU
4. UK and Trinidad and Tobago trade
In 2013 the UK exports in goods were worth £128 million to Trinidad and Tobago. UK imports were valued £114 million.
The latest statistics for UK export in services to Trinidad and Tobago were £257 million.
5. Opportunities for UK business in Trinidad and Tobago
Department for International Trade (DIT) provides free international export sales leads from its worldwide network. Search for export opportunities.
For the 2014/15 fiscal year, education was again identified as a primary sector for development. A large budget has been allocated to this sector.
This will generate opportunities for UK companies in:
- the construction of educational institutions
- provision of furniture and equipment
- preventative maintenance and repairs
- technology training
- public sector reform and training
Contact email@example.com for more information on the opportunities in the education sector.
Trinidad and Tobago has sustainable proven energy reserves of petroleum and natural gas. It has a heavy industry of iron, steel, methanol and nitrogenous fertilisers. Trinidad and Tobago has 11 ammonia plants and 7 methanol plants and is the world’s first and second largest exporter of each respectively.
It is also the sixth largest producer of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in the world. It has well established international energy companies operating from its shores, with UK upstream operators leasing the largest acreage under exploration and production.
The government is focused on actively increasing the nation’s natural gas output and is encouraging new exploration activity, both onshore and offshore. Several new fiscal incentives were introduced in 2013 in this regard.
There are opportunities for UK companies in:
- offshore deep-water and onshore exploration
- specialist drilling services
- drilling equipment
- marine inspection and diving vessels
- maintenance, integrity and reliability
- sector specific training
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the opportunities in the energy sector.
The health sector remains a government priority and received the third largest budget allocation for the 2014/15 fiscal year.
There will be opportunities for UK companies in:
- hospital construction, redevelopment and refurbishment
- construction of a professional development school
- construction of a cancer treatment hospital
- health centre upgrades
- medical equipment
- Health Information Management System (HIMS)
- Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS)
- integrated data network
- drug supply
- specialised training opportunities – allied health care, record keeping
- digital health
Contact email@example.com for more information on the opportunities in the healthcare sector.
Infrastructure in Trinidad and Tobago is a very competitive sector. However, there are opportunities for UK companies in several areas including:
- a major bridge rehabilitation project
- development of port facilities
- water and wastewater treatment plant refurbishments
- drilling of water production wells
- pipe-laying projects
- Public Private sector Partnership projects (PPP)
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the opportunities in the infrastructure sector.
Improving law enforcement, public safety and citizen security is a priority for the government. Trinidad and Tobago’s major security organisations are in need of:
- civil infrastructure and equipment
- consultancy and training services
- cell phone jammers
- Mobile Adhoc Networking (MAN) technology
- body worn and CCTV cameras
- electronic identification parades
- automated digital interview recorders
- GPS3 and GIS4
- AFIS5 and haemostatic (‘quick clotting’) bandages
Contact Export Control Organisation (ECO) to check that your goods meet the legal requirements for export.
Contact email@example.com for more information on the opportunities in the security sector.
6. Start-up considerations
A business enterprise in Trinidad and Tobago can be operated as a:
- limited liability company
- branch office
- joint venture
- merger or acquisition
The most common option for starting up a business is a limited liability company. However, for certain sectors, joint ventures and partnerships, the start-up model is usually used.
You should seek legal advice as the tax and legal obligations of each business structure can differ.
7. Legal considerations
There are several governmental regulation agencies in Trinidad and Tobago:
- Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards regulates the quality and performance of goods, excluding food, drugs and cosmetics.
- Regulatory Industries Commission regulates the quality and value of utility services
- Securities and Exchange Commission is responsible for registration, overseeing and enforcing legislation in the sector
- the Ministry of Health has a chemistry, food and drugs division
- Ministry of Food Production has an Animal Production and Health Division (AP&H), which is also the office of the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO)
- Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, is responsible for the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors
- Environmental Management Authority, regulates the environmental and is also an approving body for energy exploration
- The Occupational Safety and Health Authority and Agency ensures the compliance with legislation
UK companies entering into agreements in Trinidad and Tobago should undertake professional advice.
7.1 Intellectual Property (IP)
Intellectual property rights in Trinidad and Tobago are managed by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
In June 2000, the Word Trade Organisation (WTO) certified Trinidad & Tobago as being compliant with Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs).
Trinidad and Tobago Intellectual Property legislation protects:
- copyright and related rights
- industrial design
- integrated circuits
- geographical indications
- new plant varieties
- trade secrets
8. Tax and customs considerations
Resident companies controlled from Trinidad and Tobago, regardless of where they are incorporated, are liable to corporation tax on profits.
Other companies are taxed on their income from sources in Trinidad and Tobago. These are subject to the terms of the UK / Trinidad and Tobago double taxation treaty.
The standard rate of corporation tax is 25%.
Non-resident companies trading in Trinidad and Tobago through a permanent establishment are subject to a further withholding tax of 5% of their taxable profits. Allowances for corporation tax paid and amounts invested in additional fixed assets are deducted from this. The tax is payable regardless of whether net profits are remitted back to head office.
A number of goods in Trinidad and Tobago are also subject to 15% Value Added Tax (VAT).
Customs duty may apply to various goods entering Trinidad and Tobago, but will vary based on specific trade arrangements with exporting countries.
9. Entry requirements
Visitors from the UK are allowed to enter Trinidad & Tobago for periods of up to three months without a visa.
For work-related activities, you can enter the country for up to 30 days without a work permit, once during any consecutive 12-month period. A work permit is required beyond this.
9.1 Travel Advice
If you’re travelling to Trinidad and Tobago for business, check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice page beforehand.
Contact the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Trinidad and Tobago for more information and advice on opportunities for doing business in Trinidad and Tobago.