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  REPORT - TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
 

BOASTING ONE OF THE FASTEST EXPANDING ECONOMIES IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE, T&T SEES THE CSME AS A STEP TOWARDS ITS OBJECTIVES OF ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION AND EXPORT GROWTH
Leading role for regionís major oil producer

PATRICK MANNING
PATRICK MANNING
Prime Minister

Trinidad and Tobago’s oil-based economy has enjoyed remarkable success. Real GDP increased by 6.5 percent in 2005 — the twelfth consecutive year of positive growth — and is projected to expand by around 8 percent this year, largely due to the development of natural gas resources. The external sector has been notably strong, with Caricom representing the twin island republic’s second largest export market, after the United States.
T&T aims to become a developed country by 2020, and the government is putting a strong emphasis on economic diversification and export-oriented growth. Prime Minister Patrick Manning says, “Trinidad and Tobago is the largest market in Caricom, and we are responsible one way or another for about 80 percent of the trade that takes place in the Caricom area.”

He says regional unity will help the Caricom states to meet the challenges of a globalized market, and that is essential to build on what has been achieved so far. “We must not fail to meet the deadline of 2008 for the establishment of the Caricom Single Economy. This is of utmost importance.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs Knowlson Gift says, “The CSME presents opportunities for joint investments and projects, and will catapult the Caricom countries into being more competitive.”

He emphasizes T&T’s commitment to helping fellow Caricom states meet the economic challenges caused by rising energy costs. Last year, with oil prices spiraling upwards, the government established a petroleum stabilization fund to provide assistance of TT$300 million (US$48 million) to Caricom countries.