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Economic Relations between India and Trinidad &Tobago 

 

            Relations between India and Trinidad & Tobago date back to 30 May 1845 when the first ship ‘Fatel Razak’ carrying 225 indentured immigrants from India reached Trinidad shores. Trinidad and Tobago with its rich oil and gas resources has a high GDP of USD $ 22 billion and a per capita income of nearly USD $ 20,000.  Based on its economically influential role in the region and supported by regional and bilateral preferential trade agreements, T&T provides good opportunities to exporters from India to access the Caribbean region and beyond. 

2.          Two-way bilateral trade between India and Trinidad & Tobago include petroleum-crude & products, drugs and pharmaceuticals, iron and steel, garments, rice and other food stuff including spices, I.T. services, auto components, machinery and transportation equipment, plastic products, cosmetics, organic/inorganic chemicals, electronic goods, non-ferrous metals, gems & jewelry, silk, sports goods, paints, footwear, carpets, leather goods etc. constitute the export basket from India.  Items of export from T&T include scrap metals, wood and wood products, asphalt, chemicals.

3.     Statement showing bi-lateral trade between India and Trinidad and Tobago

Year

India’s Exports

(US$ Mn.)

India’s Imports

(US$ Mn.)

Percent Change (Exports)

Percent Change (Imports)

2006-07

107.99

50.82

62%

2692%

 

2007-08

136.02

174.28

25%

242%

2008-09

329.25

93.33

130%

-41%

 

2009-10

149.15

57.68

-52%

-43%

 

2010-11

62.96

80.18

-59%

39%

 

2011-12

82.46

204.11

30.9%

155.9%

 

2012-13


2013- 14


2014- 15

81.52


104.83  


165.48

8.90


5.35


68.42

-1.14%


28.59%


57.86%

-95.64%


-39.84%


1,178.03%

                                          (Source: Department of Commerce, New Delhi DGCI&S, Kolkata)

 4.     The Trade Agreement signed between India and T&T in January 1997 accords Most Favored Nation (MFN) status to each other. There is also Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) in place (signed in February, 1999) for which amendment has been sought from the Government of Trinidad & Tobago. The Inter-Governmental Joint Commission Agreement signed in February 2003 provides for a cooperation framework in various sectors. Bilateral Investment Promotion & Protection Agreement (BIPPA) with Government of India was negotiated and signed during the visit of Minister of Trade and Industry Kenneth Valley to India in March 2007.  The 1st meeting of the Joint Commission was held in November 2011 in Delhi led by Foreign Ministers from both sides.

 5.          T&T Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar led a high level delegation including 7 Cabinet Ministers and 160-member business representatives consisted of both private and public sector on the state visit to India from 5-14 January 2012. She was the Chief Guest at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Jaipur and was conferred with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award in recognition of her contribution to the development of relationships between India and Trinidad and Tobago. 5 MOUs and Agreements were signed which inter alia included the bilateral (i) Air Services Agreement; (ii) Technical Cooperation Agreement in the field of Education; (iii) Programme of Cultural Exchanges between 2012 - 2014; (iv) MOU on co-operation in the field of Traditional Medicine and (v) MOU for setting up of a Chair on Ayurveda.

6.        The Mission in collaboration with the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TTCIC) and InvesTT organized its Annual Business Forum on 20 March 2013 at the TTCIC Building focused on (a) Agro-processing, (b) Clean Technology and (c) BPO / IT sector. The event was geared towards promotion of trade and investment opportunities and has been a successful annual event.

7.           T&T has very good potential for investment and establishment of joint ventures by Indian companies in the field of energy, SMEs, ICT, Pharmaceuticals & Medical equipments and consumables, Health, Wellness Tourism, Ayurveda. However investments have been few particularly due to lack of facilitation and cumbersome procedures. While Government of T&T has shown some degree of willingness at reforming the whole system to allow for foreign firms to do business in T&T investors have been advised not to consider just a 1.3 million market but encouraged to look at the eight million CARICOM market and the extended market of Americas (doorway to 600 million people).

 8.      High Commission made a constant pitch with the T&T Government to facilitate the `India Brand` by allowing imports of quality Indian products into the T&T market. India had entered into quality control MOUs with 90 countries recognizing certification of the Export Inspection Council (EIC) for exports from India and efforts were on to include Trinidad and Tobago in the same. The `round-the-year` Indian Trade Fairs, selling sub-standard cheap Indian goods do not in any way help towards promoting bilateral trade, on the other hand have been giving a bad name to India and Indian products.

 9.       The interest shown by both the countries to encourage the participation in each other`s trade fairs, business seminars and conclaves and exchange of business had not materialized so far. Trade & Industry Chambers such as CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, FIEO, EEPC etc from Indian side and TTCIC are supposed to bear the responsibility to encourage their members to participate in each other`s trade fairs etc (e.g. IITF in Delhi during November every year). 

 10.     Bilateral cooperation between two countries in the field of energy have not yielded desired results despite this matter being discussed at the highest levels during PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar`s State visit.  High Commission has been making efforts to revive T&T`s moribund agriculture sector and in this context have offered a rice expert under ITEC.  This is being pursued under a MoU on cooperation in agriculture signed in October 2011. Furthermore MoUs have been nearly finalized in the areas of Renewable Energy – Solar and MSMEs.

 11.    Health cooperation both traditional as well as allopathic have gained salience over time. As a follow up on the two MOUs signed in January 2012, namely, (i) Cooperation in the field of Traditional Medicine and (ii) Setting up of a Chair on Ayurveda in the University of the West Indies (UWI), Shri S. Gandhiselvan, Minister of State - in charge of Traditional Medicine (AYUSH - Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) - in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India led a 5 member AYUSH delegation to Trinidad and Tobago from 16 - 21 October 2012 to facilitate the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in bringing legislation for practice of Ayurveda in the country. The delegation held bilateral meetings with Dr. Fuad Khan, Health Minister, Mr. Stephen Cadiz, Minister of Tourism and Mr. Orville London, Chief Secretary, Tobago House of Assembly. During this period the Ministry of Health, initiated by the High Commission, organized a Seminar on `The Future of Herbal Medicine` with attendance of more than 200 persons.

 





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