India and Trinidad & Tobago Bilateral Trade Relations
Relationship between India and Trinidad ...
The Trade Agreement signed between India and Trinidad & Tobago in January 1997 accords Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to each other. During 2019-20 bilateral trade was US$ 169.53 million (India’s exports to Trinidad & Tobago were US$ 85.11 million and Trinidad & Tobago’s exports to India were US$ 84.42 million). The bilateral trade between the two countries has remained stable for the past few years. Total volume of trade reached USD 264.15 million in 2020-21 of which India’s exports to Trinidad & Tobago were of the order of about USD 74.79 million and imports around USD 189.36 million.
If we take a look at our top 10 export categories we find that India’s main export basket to Trinidad & Tobago consists of pharmaceutical products, plastics and articles thereof, vehicles other than railway or tramway rolling stock, and parts and accessories thereof; electrical machinery and equipment and parts thereof; articles of iron or steel; iron and steel; tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes; articles of apparel and clothing accessories, ceramic products; edible fruit and nuts; peel of citrus fruit or melons, etc. These sectors collectively constitute almost 77 percent of India’s total exports to Trinidad & Tobago. However, trade is nowhere near the potential as India’s share in the total imports of Trinidad & Tobago is just 1.4 percent. Even in the top export products from India there is still a lot of potential as India’s share in Trinidad & Tobago’s global imports of these products is very less despite India’s good capacities and significant global exports.
There is a great scope and potential for growth in these sectors and many others like garments, other textile products, agriculture and agro-biotechnology, information technology and information technology enabled services, new energy (wind and solar), tourism including medical tourism, higher education, automobiles, ayurveda and wellness and films, music and entertainment. Also based on its strategic geographical location, Trinidad & Tobago presents an opportunity to Indian businesses to access the entire CARICOM and beyond due to the influential role the nation plays in the region, and the support it gets through various bilateral and regional Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs).
The Indian diaspora is an integral part of the economic, political and social fabric of T&T and has contributed immensely to the twin-island nation’s growth and prosperity over the decades. Also, several MoUs in areas such as science and technology, cultural cooperation, technical cooperation, trade, have been signed.
Trinidad & Tobago is South America’s key transshipment hub. It is also well suited for providing nearshore services to North America, given that it shares the same time zone as the East Coast of the US and has a local English speaking population. Indian merchandise and services exporters can use it as a base for supplying goods and services both to South and North America.
—The author is Director General & CEO, Federation of Indian Export Organisations