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Trinidad and Tobago, Economy

Trinidad and Tobagoís petroleum-based economy provides its citizens with a per capita income well above the Latin American average, although living standards are significantly lower than during the petroleum boom years of 1973 to 1982. Widespread unemployment, large foreign debt payments, and fluctuations in world oil prices all served to destabilize the economy of Trinidad and Tobago in the late 1980s and 1990s. In 1994 the republic had its first year of sustained economic growth since the early 1980s.

In 1999 crude petroleum production totaled 46.8 million barrels. Natural gas has become an increasingly important export as the nationís economy begins to turn away from petroleum production. Coal, iron, gypsum, and graphite are found but in quantities too small to be economically important. Manufactures include processed food, tobacco products, rum, refined petroleum, and fertilizer. Other industries developed in the 1980s produce iron and steel, petrochemicals, and electronic equipment. Agriculture employs 8 percent of the labor force. The most important commercial crop is sugarcane. Cacao, coconuts, citrus fruits, tonka beans, vegetables, rubber trees, and coffee are also cultivated. The chief products of Tobago are cacao, copra, coconuts, livestock, poultry, and limes. Tourism is important to the economy and is a leading source of foreign exchange. The estimated national budget for 1997 showed revenues of $1.4 billion and expenditures of $1.5 billion. Trinidad and Tobagoís gross domestic product (GDP) in 2000 was $7.3 billion.

The country exports crude and refined petroleum, which constitute 54 percent of the yearly exports; other exports are natural gas, chemicals, iron and steel, sugar, cacao beans, and rum. Crude petroleum is imported for refining. In 2000 exports were valued at $4 billion and imports at $3.2 billion. The unit of currency is the Trinidad and Tobago dollar, consisting of 100 cents (6.30 T.T. dollars equal U.S.$1; 2000 average).


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