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Trinidad & Tobago (cover)
Energy
Phoenix Park Gas Processors
BP Amoco
Petroleum Co. of Trinidad and
   Tobago Ltd.(Petrotrin)
The Power Generation Co. of
  
Trinidad & Tobago
Banking/Financial Services
Accounting
Consumer Products
Food Products
Electronics
Point Lisas
Industrial Estate:
Home for Heavy Industry

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Trinidad & Tobago

Powered by abundant natural resources, an aggressive

economic diversification effort and a stable, pro-business government,

Trinidad and Tobago has emerged as one of the Caribbean region's standout

business locations. The experiences of companies as diverse as

BP Amoco, Johnson & Johnson and Citicorp tell the bottom-line story:

Trinidad and Tobago is a profitable place to do business.

Trinidad and Tobago

Since Christopher Columbus's discovery of Trinidad and Tobago in 1498, the islands have been widely regarded as among the Caribbean's greatest treasures. Indeed, Trinidad and Tobago were under Spanish, English, French and Dutch control during the colonial era before gaining independence from Britain in 1962.

The twin-island democratic republic is located at the southern end of the Caribbean archipelago, just outside the hurricane belt (a big factor in its rapidly expanding marine recreation industry). It's rich with natural resources, including vast reserves of natural gas and crude oil. Primary exports include iron and steel, organic and inorganic chemicals, beverages and fertilizer.

Location is critical in any business venture, and Trinidad and Tobago is ideally situated to access Western Hemisphere markets. "We are a gateway to both Latin America and North America," says Prakash R. Saith, general manager of National Energy Corp., a subsidiary of the National Gas Co. of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC).

Trinidad is the larger of the two islands and home to the capital city (Port of Spain) and most of the country's 1.3 million people and industrial development. Tobago is a powerful lure for tourists, with breathtakingly beautiful ocean views and rain forests full of exotic birds, animals and plants.

Port of Spain
Investment Magnet

A scan of Trinidad and Tobago's tourism promotional materials reveals why vacationers flock to the country (site of the 1999 Miss Universe Pageant) for discovery, relaxation and romance. But corporate investors are fairly rushing to Trinidad and Tobago too, which now boasts the highest per-capita foreign investment in Latin America and the Caribbean.


Above: Port of Spain is Trinidad & Tobago's capital city.
A sampling of the 150-plus international companies already established in Trinidad and Tobago includes such high-profile firms as BP Amoco, Citicorp, Coca-Cola, Fujitsu, Johnson & Johnson and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Indeed, Trinidad and Tobago's investment opportunities have never been greater. Foreign direct investment is at record levels, fueled by robust expansion in the energy sector. New energy projects worth an estimated US$447 million were announced in 1998 alone.

Trinidad and Tobago "If only 50 percent of [proposed energy-related projects] actually comes to pass, you're going to be seeing a Singapore in the Western Hemisphere," predicts Krishna Persad, a leading Trinidadian oil and gas industry consultant. In one of its biggest victories ever, Trinidad and Tobago beat out several strong competitors for Atlantic LNG's $1 billion liquefied natural gas plant -- reportedly the single largest industrial investment ever in the Caribbean. The plant recently opened near Point Fortin, on Trinidad's west coast.

Although Trinidad and Tobago's economy was heavily dependent on oil production for many years, it's much more diversified today. New initiatives are under way to attract information technology and other growth industries (see sidebar article). But companies in all sectors are being attracted by perhaps the country's most powerful location magnet: its outstanding business climate.

Warm Business Climate

While some Caribbean countries' investment environment is unpredictable at best, Trinidad and Tobago's business climate stands in stark contrast. It's as warm as the country's tropical sunshine and blue ocean waters. In fact, a recent Institutional Investor magazine global survey of banking executives names Trinidad and Tobago as the Caribbean region's most secure investment location.

Trinidad and Tobago recreation "We offer investors a stable environment," Saith says. "We have a history of doing what we say." Adds NGC's Manager of Gas Resources Management Arnold DeFour: "The sanctity of contracts is very important to multinational firms, and it's one of the things that makes Trinidad attractive." NGC, in fact, is still working from contracts that date from the country's independence in 1962. Those contracts have not been tinkered with or renegotiated, despite several changes of government since then.


Above right: Abundant recreation options boost Trinidad & Tobago's investment profile
Trinidad and Tobago is committed to an open, market-driven economy and the encouragement of private enterprise and foreign investment. It has export market access with the United States, the European Union, Canada and numerous other nations via special agreement. What's more, it's currently seeking to join the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"There are no exchange controls here," reports Trevor Baldeo, manager of investment promotion for the Tourism and Industrial Development Co. of Trinidad and Tobago (TIDCO). "Investors can bring money in and bring it out again. And foreign firms can own 100 percent of a company."

A number of competitive financial incentives programs are available to assist investors in establishing new facilities (see sidebar article).

Queen's Royal College Yet another big asset is the country's skilled work force, renowned for its cooperative spirit. Trinidad and Tobago offers "a stable industrial relations climate and a reservoir of skilled manpower which can be harnessed to attain the most demanding standards of performance consistent with the requirements for global competitiveness," Prime Minister Basdeo Panday says. Moreover, labor costs in Trinidad and Tobago are extremely competitive.


Above: Queen's Royal College is located in Port of Spain
What Executives Say

Perhaps nothing is more valuable to a potential investor in evaluating location alternatives than the experiences of existing corporate citizens. Those firms' executives know what the labor force is really like. They understand clearly if the government is cooperative or not. They know whether their investment has been a good one or not, and they know if they're making money.

To give readers an on-the-ground sense of what it's like to do business in Trinidad and Tobago, Site Selection interviewed top managers in a wide range of existing companies. Although there have been a few bumps along the road in some cases, the executives' stories paint a decidedly positive picture. Each lauds the country's overall inviting investment climate, governmental cooperation and future potential.

Those executives' experiences underscore a very important point: Trinidad and Tobago has become a key business center in the Caribbean, and it could well be a good choice for your company's expansion needs in the region. Here are 11 companies' stories.

Trinidad and Tobago map/location

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