Trinidad & Tobago a Place to Invest
Trinidad & Tobago At A Glance
Size: The Republic of Trinidad & Tobago comprises two islands. Trinidad, the larger, has an area of about 4827 square km (1886 square miles). This makes it roughly the size of the State of Delaware. Tobago is smaller, with an area of about 300 square km (117 square miles).
Location: Trinidad & Tobago is strategically located at the southern end of the chain of Caribbean islands and just off the north-eastern shoulder of South America. Trinidad is only 11 km (6.8 miles) off the eastern coast of Venezuela. Tobago is 32.2 km (20 miles) to the north-east of Trinidad.
Trinidad & Tobago is approximately:
613 km (381 miles) from Caracas - flying time: 1.2 hours
2598 km (1614 miles) from Miami - flying time: 3.75 hours
3200 km (1988 miles) from New York - flying time: 4.8 hours
4000 km (2486 miles) from Toronto - flying time: 5.5 hours
6400 km (3977 miles) from London - flying time: 8.7 hours
Communications: Air, sea and land transportation links are excellent. Both the international airport in Trinidad (Piarco) and that in Tobago (Crown Point) are served by several European and North American carriers, and by the country's own Caribbean Airlines. Direct air links with South and Central America are via Venezuela and Panama respectively. The Piarco Airport is acclaimed as the most technologically advanced airport in the region. The two main international sea ports are at Port of Spain and Point Lisas, the most important industrial center and the heartland of the energy sector.
Time Zone: Trinidad & Tobago is on Greenwich Mean Time minus four hours. In Winter it is on US Eastern Standard Time plus one hour and in Summer it is on US Eastern Standard Time.
Population: In 2006, the population of Trinidad & Tobago was estimated in at 1.298 million. It comprises a mix of persons from just about every ethnic background, living in harmony. Religious tolerance allows for active observance of many faiths including, Christian, Hindu and Islam.
Language: The official language is English. Facilities exist for foreign language dealings and translations, as may be required.
Currency: The currency unit is the Trinidad & Tobago dollar (TT$). In 1993, a floating rate system was introduced at TT$5.756 to US $1.00. Over the past 10 years, the rate has remained relatively stable, averaging TT$6.30 to US$1.00.
Business Hours: Normal business hours are 8.00 am to 4.00 p.m. with banks closing at 2.00 p.m. Modern technology allows for banking transactions to continue 24 hours a day 7 days a week. E-banking is offered by the major commercial banks.
Education: Trinidad & Tobago has a well-educated population with high levels of literacy. The education system is modeled after the English system. Government schools and Denominational schools (owned and managed by various religious bodies) provide free education at the primary and secondary levels (i.e. up to Form 5 or Grade 12). The Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) is offered for post-secondary candidates who require certification and advanced standing. Regional Universities and tertiary institutions in the U.K. and the U.S.A. accept CAPE certification for matriculation and entry level programmes, based on the institution's requirements for a particular course of study.
Private, fee-paying schools exist at both primary and secondary levels. Two of the private international schools are based on the American and Canadian systems.
Tertiary education at the University of the West Indies (UWI) is available at heavily subsidised rates and one of the campuses is in Trinidad. The others are located in Jamaica and Barbados. Other institutions of further education include the University of Trinidad and Tobago, the Teaching and Medical Science facility at Mount Hope in Trinidad, and the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business.
Culture, Sport and Social Life: Trinidad & Tobago’s reputation as the Land of Steelband, Calypso and the Limbo is well-established. Added to and sometimes blended with this are the haunting rhythms of the East as developed by the local Indian population. These are expressions of a vibrant, cosmopolitan people whose ancestors came from every corner of the world. The multi-cultural lifestyle is also reflected in a host of festivals. The annual Carnival is one of the world’s biggest street festivals, and an experience never to be forgotten, with the rhythms of calypso music and the magnificent costumes of the masqueraders.
The tropical climate encourages outdoor activities including yachting, sports-fishing, windsurfing, scuba diving and golf. Excellent sport and recreational facilities are available and affordable.
The cultural diversity is further reflected in the wide range of food choices. There is also the choice of international cuisine and popular North American fast foods.
There are several art galleries which feature the works of both local and foreign artists. A small, but vibrant theatre and dance group is emerging.
The friendly attitude of the population encourages an amicable atmosphere for business discussions. Trinbagonians like to socialise and foreign visitors are warmly received. At the same time there is a serious-minded, professional approach to international business dealings.
The Business Environment
The Political System:Trinidad & Tobago is a stable democratic nation. General elections are held at least every 5 years. All changes of Government have occurred through free and fair elections. Orderly and peaceful transitions of power are routine.
The Financial System:
The financial system is well-organised and soundly-regulated. The Central Bank of Trinidad & Tobago determines monetary policy and sets discount rates and reserve requirements. It regulates operations of the commercial banks and other financial institutions. There are 6 commercial banks with a total of 117 branches with an asset base of over TT$23 billion.
In addition there are non-bank financial institutions, merchant banks, finance houses, trust companies, mortgage finance institutions, mutual funds including a unit trust corporation, a secondary mortgage company, credit unions, and more than 30 insurance companies. The Deposit Insurance Corporation guarantees deposits up to TT$50,000. There is also the National Insurance System, the Trinidad & Tobago Stock Exchange and the Depository as well as a number of other development finance institutions catering for Central securities, commercial, agricultural and small business development. The securities industry is governed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Internationally, Trinidad & Tobago is a member of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and subscribes to the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade. It is active in a number of regional, hemispheric and international organisations and enjoys a high reputation among members of these bodies.