Trinidad and Tobago has earned a reputation as an excellent investment site for international businesses and has one of the highest growth rates and per capita incomes in Latin America. Recent growth has been fueled by investments in liquefied natural gas (LNG), petrochemicals, and steel. Additional petrochemical, aluminum, and plastics projects are in various stages of planning. Trinidad and Tobago is the leading Caribbean producer of oil and gas, and its economy is heavily dependent upon these resources but it also supplies manufactured goods, notably food and beverages, as well as cement to the Caribbean region. Oil and gas account for about 40% of GDP and 80% of exports, but only 5% of employment.
The country is also a regional financial center, and tourism is a growing sector, although it is not proportionately as important as in many other Caribbean islands. The economy benefits from a growing trade surplus. Economic growth reached 12.6% in 2006 and 5.5% in 2007 as prices for oil, petrochemicals, and LNG remained high, and as foreign direct investment continued to grow to support expanded capacity in the energy sector.
Trinidad and Tobago's infrastructure is adequate by regional standards. The national airport has recently been expanded. There is an extensive network of paved roads, and utilities are fairly reliable in the cities. Some areas, however, especially rural districts, still suffer from water shortages. The government is addressing this problem with the construction of additional desalinization plants. Infrastructure improvement, especially rural roads and telephone service, drainage and sewerage, are among the government's budget priorities.
Telephone service is relatively modern and reliable. Cellular service is widespread and has been the major area of growth for several years. Digicel and Laqtel were granted cellular licenses in 2005, breaking TSTT's monopoly. The Internet has come into widespread use, although service can be slow at peak times. The government has been slow to open up this market to competition as well.
Economic aid - recipient: $200,000 (2007 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $6.761 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Currency: 1 Trinidad and Tobago dollar (TT$) = 100 cents
Exchange rates: Trinidad and Tobago dollars (TT$) per US$1 : 6.2842 (2005), 6.2990 (2004), 6.2951 (2003), 6.2487 (2002), 6.2332 (2001), 6.2697 (2000), 6.2963 (1999), 6.2983 (1998), 6.2517 (1997), 6.0051 (1996), 5.9478 (1995)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $12.44 billion (2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $1.419 billion (2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $15.57 billion (2006)
Fiscal year: 1 October - 30 September
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