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Trinidad and Tobago (TT) is a high-income developing island country that maintains an open, heavily trade dependent economy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that TT’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $24.5 billion will rise by 3.5 percent in 2023. Upstream and downstream energy production drive the economy and this sector has attracted the most foreign investment of all sectors. Petrochemicals and steel are other sectors accounting for significant foreign investment. The energy sector usually accounts for approximately half of GDP and 80 percent of export earnings.

TT’s investment climate is generally open and the TT government (GoTT) continues to work to strengthen intellectual property protection, leverage new financial technologies to improve the delivery of services, streamline the tax structure, and facilitate better customs procedures. While most formal investment barriers have been eliminated, U.S. companies cite inefficient bureaucracy and opaque procedures as hurdles.

Over the past twelve months, foreign direct investment (FDI) in both energy and non-energy sectors has increased, with several companies expanding operations, reflecting a return to confidence combined with successful efforts by the investment promotion agency. The GoTT is also prioritizing the incorporation of digital technologies as a means of improving the business and investment climate.

TT is working towards implementing its nationally determined contributions to the Paris Agreement (15 percent reduction in emissions from power generation, public transportation, and industry by 2030) with the construction of utility scale solar plants, the development of an e-mobility policy, enabling the conversion of conventional motor vehicles to run on cleaner compressed natural gas, and developing a poly on carbon capture and storage. The war in Ukraine has impacted food security through inflation which reached a high of 8.7 percent at the end of 2022.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Adress
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2022 77 of 180
Global Innovation Index 2022 101 of 132
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2021 USD 4.1B
World Bank GNI per capita 2021 USD 15,000

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

TT maintains a trade-dependent economy characterized by a generally open investment climate. The GoTT continues to attempt to strengthen intellectual property protection, leverage new financial technologies to improve the delivery of services, streamline the tax structure, and facilitate better customs procedures. While TT is a free market economy, the GoTT is also actively engaged in TT’s economic development through a network of wholly-owned and majority-owned state enterprises. Most formal investment barriers have been eliminated, and foreign investors are not required to enter joint ventures or cede management control to local interests. While TT’s legal framework and public policies are generally favorable toward foreign investors, U.S. companies cite bureaucracy and opaque procedures as hurdles that are more effectively navigated with a local partner.

Eligibility for various incentive schemes depends on investment proposals meeting the criteria set by relevant government agencies. TT places no restrictions on reinvestment or repatriation of earnings or capital. The judicial system, which includes arbitration and mediation centers, upholds the sanctity of contracts. TT’s judicial system is notoriously slow, although this applies to all matters and not only to those involving foreign investors.

InvesTT ( ) is the lead investment promotion agency that facilitates foreign investment in the non-energy sector. InvesTT undertakes investment promotion and industry development and work with both foreign and local investors by assisting throughout their decision-making process, facilitating the process of setting up the business, and providing aftercare service once established. InvesTT maintains ongoing dialogue with investors through the aftercare team which monitors industry developments, provides support for operational issues, and submits policy recommendations to the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Foreign and domestic entities may readily establish, operate, and dispose of their own enterprises in TT. There have been no significant changes over the last 12 months.

There are no limits on foreign ownership. Under the Foreign Investment Act of 1990, a foreign investor is permitted to own 100 percent of the share capital in a private company. A license is required to own more than a 30 percent of a public company.

TT maintains an investment screening mechanism for foreign investment related to specific projects that have been submitted for the purpose of accessing sector-specific incentives, such as for those offered in the tourism industry. Information on criteria to access the development incentives are listed in various legislative acts such as the Tourism Development Act of 2001. There are no reports of U.S. investors being especially disadvantaged or singled out relative to other foreign investors.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The World Trade Organization conducted a trade policy review for TT in 2019: 

The Business and Human Rights Resource Center noted concerns about the expansion of Chinese investment in TT in 2019. 

Business Facilitation

The GoTT has attempted to improve the ease of starting and operating businesses in TT by automating parts of the process. The business registration website is: . In 2023, the Global Enterprise Registration Network (GER) gives the TT business registration website a moderate score of 6.5 out of ten for its single electronic window reflecting strengths in making simultaneous requests but weaknesses in the inability to make online payments. The online information portal, , received a below-average score of four out of ten since the site does not provide necessary and sufficient indications for the user to be able to complete the procedures. One of the portal’s strengths is that a feedback mechanism allows users to communicate with authorities.

Foreign companies can use the website and business registration requires completion of seven procedures over a period of ten days. The agencies with which a company must typically register include:

  • Companies Registry, Ministry of Legal Affairs
  • Board of Inland Revenue
  • National Insurance Board; and
  • Value Added Tax (VAT Office, Board of Inland Revenue)

Outward Investment

The host government does not promote or incentivize outward investment.

The host government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

TT has 13 bilateral investment treaties (BIT) currently in force ( ). These agreements mutually protect nationals or companies of either economy against non-commercial risks of expropriation and nationalization. TT has signed free trade agreements (FTAs) with five countries, either bilaterally or as a part of CARICOM:

A bilateral taxation treaty with the United States took effect in 1970: . The GoTT is in the process of modernizing its tax collection regime with the establishment of a new central revenue authority. There are no ongoing systemic tax disputes between the government and foreign investors or other taxation issues of general concern to U.S. investors. TT has bilateral taxation treaties with 16 other countries/entities: Brazil, Canada, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Venezuela. TT is a member of the OECD Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting and has accepted the Inclusive Framework’s October 2021 deal on the two-pillar solution to global tax challenges, including a global minimum corporate tax.

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Through the TT Fair Trading Commission, the GoTT develops transparent policies and effective laws to foster market-based competition on a non-discriminatory basis and establishes “clear rules of the game.” Legal, regulatory, and accounting systems are generally transparent and consistent with international norms.

There are no informal regulatory processes managed by non-governmental organizations or private sector associations.

Rule-making and regulatory authority exist within the ministries and regulatory agencies at the national level. The GoTT consults frequently, but not always, with international agencies and business associations in developing regulations. The GoTT submits draft regulations to Parliament for approval. The process is the same for each ministry.

Accounting, legal, and regulatory procedures are transparent and consistent with international norms. International financial reporting standards are required for domestic public companies. The GoTT promotes but does not require companies’ environmental, social, and governance disclosure to facilitate transparency to help investors and consumers distinguish between high- and low-quality investments.

Proposed laws and regulations are often published in draft form electronically for public review at , although there is no legal obligation to do so. The GoTT often solicits private sector and business community comments on proposed legislation, although there is no timeframe for the length of a consultation period when it happens, nor is reporting on the consultations mandatory.

All draft bills and regulations are printed in the official gazette and other websites:

The U.S. Embassy is not aware of an oversight or enforcement mechanism that ensures that the GoTT follows administrative processes.

There has not been any announcement regarding reforms to the regulatory system, including enforcement, since the last ICS report. Regulatory reform efforts announced in prior years, such as the mechanism to calculate and collect property tax and the establishment of the revenue authority, have not been fully implemented.

Establishment of the revenue authority is intended to increase collections and streamline the system for paying taxes.

At present, regulatory enforcement mechanisms are usually a combination of moral suasion and the use of applicable administrative, civil, or criminal sanctions. The enforcement process is not legally reviewable.

Regulation is usually reviewed based on scientific or data-driven assessments. Scientific studies or quantitative analyses are not made publicly available. Public comments received by regulators are generally not made public.

Public finances and debt obligations are transparent and publicly available on the central bank website: 

International Regulatory Considerations

TT is not part of a regional economic block, though it is part of the CARICOM, a regional trading bloc that provides duty-free access to member countries’ goods, free movement to some members, and establishes common treatment of non-members on specific issues. CARICOM continues to explore implementation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) that would eventually integrate member countries into a single economic unit. The CSME was formally named in 1989 and when fully completed would succeed CARICOM.

TT’s legal, regulatory, and accounting systems are generally consistent with United Kingdom standards.

The GoTT has not consistently notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) of draft technical regulations.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

TT’s legal system is based on English common law. Contracts are legally enforced through the court system.

TT has a written commercial law. There are few specialized courts, making the resolution of legal claims time consuming. An industrial court exclusively handles cases relating to labor practices but also suffers from severe backlogs and is widely seen to favor claimants.

Civil cases of less than $2,250 are heard by the Magistrate’s Court. Matters exceeding that amount are heard in the High Court of Justice, which can grant equitable relief. There is no court or division of a court dedicated solely to hearing commercial cases.

TT’s judicial system is independent of the executive, and the judicial process is competent, procedurally and substantively fair, and reliable, although very slow. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report, TT ranks 174 of 190 in ease of enforcing contracts, and its court system requires 1,340 days to resolve a contract claim, nearly double the Latin American and Caribbean regional average.

Decisions may be appealed to the Court of Appeal in the first instance. The United Kingdom Privy Council Judicial Committee is the final court of appeal.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

TT’s judicial system respects the sanctity of contracts and generally provides a level playing field for foreign investors involved in court matters. Due to the backlog of cases, however, there can be major delays in the process. It is imperative that foreign investors seek competent local legal counsel. Some U.S. companies are hesitant to pursue legal remedies, preferring to attempt good faith negotiations in order to avoid an acrimonious relationship that could harm their interests in the country’s small, tight-knit business community.

There is no “one-stop-shop” website for investment providing relevant laws, rules, and procedures. Useful websites to help navigate foreign investment laws, rules, and procedures include:

Competition and Antitrust Laws

The TT Fair Trading Commission is an independent statutory agency responsible for promoting and maintaining fair competition in the domestic market. It is tasked with investigating the various forms of anti-competitive business conduct set out in the Fair-Trading Act. No cases that involve foreign investment have arisen in the past 12 months. The agency adheres to fair and transparent norms and procedures. The agency’s decisions can be appealed to the judicial system.

Expropriation and Compensation

The GoTT can legally expropriate property based on the needs of the country and only after due process including adequate compensation, generally based on market value. Various pieces of legislation make provisions for compulsory licensing in the interest of public health or intellectual property rights.

The U.S. Embassy is not aware of any direct or indirect expropriation actions since the 1980s. All prior expropriations were compensated to the satisfaction of the parties involved. Energy sector contacts occasionally describe the tax regime as confiscatory, pointing to after-the-fact withdrawal or weakening of tax incentives offered to entice investment once investment occurs.

Claimants did not allege a lack of due process in prior expropriation cases.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

TT is a party to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID Convention) and the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958 New York convention).

Local courts recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards according to chapter 20 of the Arbitration (Foreign Arbitral Awards) Act 1996.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

The bilateral investment treaty between the United States and TT recognizes binding arbitration of investment disputes.

The U.S. Embassy is not aware of any claims by U.S. investors under the bilateral investment treaty with the United States.

The U.S. Embassy is unaware of any disputes involving U.S. or other foreign investors over the past 10 years. There is no history of extrajudicial action against foreign investors.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

Some of the available types of alternative dispute resolution include mediation and arbitration. The Civil Proceedings Rules encourage parties to make reasonable attempts to resolve their disputes amicably with litigation as a last resort.  Mediation and arbitration are most commonly used.

There is a domestic dispute resolution center that offers arbitration services. Domestic legislation, the Arbitration Act of 1939, is based on early English arbitration legislation and is not modeled on internationally accepted regulations.

The U.S. Embassy has no records of any investment disputes involving a state-owned enterprise (SOE).

Bankruptcy Regulations

TT’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act of 2007 provides a statutory framework that allows companies and individuals to address financial difficulties. Creditors have the right to be notified within 10 days of the appointment of a receiver and to receive a final report, a statement of accounts, and an assessment of claim. Claims of secured creditors are prioritized under the Bankruptcy Act. No distinction is made between foreign and domestic creditors or contract holders. Bankruptcy is not criminalized.

Investment Incentives

Investment incentives include the following: exemption from import duties and customs duties, tax credits and deferrals, cash refunds, carry-over of losses, and access to loans. These are available equally to foreign and domestic investors, but delays in cash refund payments are a frequent complaint. There are no specific incentives for underrepresented investors such as women. Additional information is available on the following websites:

The GoTT sometimes jointly finances foreign direct investment projects, but it is not common.

The Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries continues to work on a Feed in Tariff (FIT) policy and a FIT Implementation plan under the Global Climate Change Alliance+ initiative.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

The TT Special Economic Zones Bill, 2021 was passed in the Parliament in January 2022, creating a Special Economic Zone Authority and replacing the prior 1988 Free Zones Act. The new authority has not yet been fully implemented but is expected to occur in 2023.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

The GoTT does not mandate – although it strongly encourages through negotiable incentives – projects that generate employment and foreign exchange, provide training and/or technology transfer, boost exports or reduce imports, have local content; and generally, contribute to the welfare of the country.

The GoTT does not mandate that locals be recruited to senior management and boards of directors.

Several foreign firms have encountered inconsistencies leading to long delays in the issuance of long-term work permits, but there are no explicit, onerous requirements.

There are no government/authority-imposed conditions on permission to invest.

There are no forced localization requirements.

There are no performance requirements and thus no enforcement procedures. There is no indication of an intention to implement across-the-board performance requirements.

Investment incentives are uniform for domestic and foreign investors but offered on a case-by-case, instead of an across-the-board basis.

There are no requirements for foreign information technology (IT) providers to turn over source code and/or provide access to encryption.

There are no measures that prevent or restrict companies from freely transmitting customer or other business-related data outside the country.

There are no rules on local data storage within TT.

Real Property

Property rights and interests are enforced in court. Mortgages and liens exist. TT has a dual system of land titles, the old common law system and the registered land title system governed by the Real Property Act of 1946. Nearly 80 percent of land in TT remains under the more complicated common law system, which is not reliable for recording secured interests.

The Foreign Investment Act of 1990 governs the acquisition of any interest in land by foreign investors. It states that foreign investors wishing to acquire land larger than five acres must obtain a license from the Ministry of Finance. Licenses are generally granted in practice per the criteria provided here: .

It is not clear what proportion of land does not have clear title. The GoTT does not make a defined effort to identify property owners and register land titles. Property ownership can revert to squatters if they can prove exclusive possession of another’s land, without permission, for at least 16 years in the case of private lands and 30 years on state lands.

Intellectual Property Rights

The process of protecting intellectual property involves applying for and registering patents, trademarks, or designs. TT’s intellectual property rights (IPR) legal structure is strong, but enforcement is generally weak. U.S. rights holders identify that infringement on rights sometimes occurs.

TT is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). In 2020, TT acceded to the Madrid Protocol on Trademarks. Trinidad and Tobago is not a party to the Hague agreement concerning the international registration of industrial designs, nor is it a party to the 2000 Patent Law Treaty..

TT does not comprehensively track seizures of counterfeit goods. At its May 2019 WTO Trade Policy Review, it reported one seizure in 2018. The country has prosecuted IPR violations in the past, but such prosecutions are uncommon.

TT is listed in the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) 2023 Special 301 Report Watch List. The United States remains concerned about the lack of enforcement action against the two state-owned telecommunications networks that continue to violate the agreement, both of which broadcast unlicensed U.S. over-the-air signal content as part of their commercial television subscription packages.

TT is not included in USTR’s 2022 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at: 

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

The GoTT welcomes foreign portfolio investment.

TT has its own stock market and has an established regulatory framework to encourage and facilitate portfolio investment. There is enough liquidity in the markets to enter and exit sizeable positions.

Existing policies facilitate the free flow of financial resources into the product and factor markets.

The GoTT and the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago respect International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Article VIII by refraining from restrictions on payment and transfers for current international transactions. Shortages of foreign exchange, exacerbated by the government’s maintenance of the local currency at values higher than those which the market would bear, however, cause considerable delays in payments and transfers for international transactions.

A full range of credit instruments is available to the private sector. There are no restrictions on borrowing by foreign investors, who can access credit. Credit is allocated on market terms, but interest rates tend to be higher for foreign borrowers.

Money and Banking System

Banking services are widespread throughout urban areas, but penetration is significantly lower in rural areas.

Although the banking sector is healthy and well-capitalized, the IMF in its most recent Financial Stability Assessment Program noted TT’s banks are exposed to sovereign risk and potential liquidity risks stemming from non-bank financial entities in the group. The IMF finds that while progress has been made toward strengthening the financial system overall, several vulnerabilities remain: increasing household and business debt; high exposures to the sovereign; interconnectedness; need to further strengthen the financial regulatory and supervisory framework; through transforming the investment fund sector, consolidating supervision of conglomerate groups and strengthening supervisory resource and independence in line with international best practices. The supervisors operate with guidelines in key areas instead of binding powers, which limits their authority.

In December 2021, the estimated total assets of TT’s largest banks was $23.1 billion.

TT has a central bank system. Foreign banks may establish operations in TT provided they obtain a license from the central bank. TT has not lost correspondent banking relationships in the past three years. The U.S. Embassy is not aware of any current correspondent banking relationships that are in jeopardy.

There are no restrictions on a foreigner’s ability to establish a bank account.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

There are no restrictions or limitations placed on foreign investors in converting, transferring, or repatriating funds associated with an investment.

Shortages of foreign exchange, exacerbated by the government’s maintenance of the local currency at values higher than those which the market would bear, cause considerable delays in conversion into world currencies. Businesses continue to report a cumbersome bureaucratic process and a minimum three-month delay in such conversions.

The central bank intervenes to maintain an unofficial peg to the U.S. dollar, using a managed float in which the exchange rate fluctuates mildly day-to-day and limits the availability of foreign currency.

Remittance Policies

While there are no recent changes or plans to change investment remittance policies to tighten or relax access to foreign exchange for investment remittances, commercial banks have enacted policies that limit access to foreign exchange due to national shortages, on guidance from the Ministry of Finance and the central bank.

Although there are no official time limitations on remittances, timeliness of remittances depends on availability of foreign currency.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

The value of TT’s Heritage and Stabilization Fund as of September 2022 is approximately $5 billion. The fund invests in U.S. short duration fixed income, U.S. core domestic fixed income, U.S. core domestic equities, and non-U.S. core international equities. The percentage of investment in the United States is not public.

The sovereign wealth fund (SWF) follows the voluntary code of good practices known as the Santiago Principles. TT participates in the IMF-hosted International Working Group on Sovereign Wealth Funds.

None of the SWF is invested domestically. There are no potentially negative ramifications for U.S. investors in the local market.

TT has 55 SOEs comprised of 43 wholly-owned companies, eight majority-owned, and four in which the government has a minority share. SOEs are in the energy, manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, financial services, transportation, and communication sectors. Information on the total assets of SOEs, total net income of SOEs, and number of people employed by SOEs is not available. The Investments Division of the Ministry of Finance appoints directors to the boards of state enterprises, reportedly at the direction of the Minister of Finance. SOEs are often informally or explicitly obligated to consult with GoTT officials before making major business decisions. According to TT’s constitution, the GoTT is entitled to:

  • exercise control directly or indirectly over the affairs of the enterprise
  • appoint a majority of directors of the board of directors of the enterprise; and
  • hold at least 50 per cent of the ordinary share capital of the enterprise

A published list of SOEs for 2023 can be found here:

In sectors that are open to both the private sector and foreign competition, SOEs are sometimes favored for government contracts, which might negatively impact U.S. investors in the market.

SOEs competing in the domestic market operate in accordance with commercial considerations, on terms that other market participants would offer or accept. SOEs competing in the domestic market provide non-discriminatory treatment in their purchase and sale of goods or services. Post is aware of one SOE competing in the domestic marketplace that has made investments in the United States.

The country has not adhered to the OECD corporate governance guidelines for SOEs.

Privatization Program

TT does not have a privatization program in place, but the government has issued initial public offerings of various state-owned companies to obtain revenue, primarily in the finance and energy sectors. Foreign investors can participate in the initial public offerings of SOEs.

The purchase of initial public offering shares on past occasions was open to the public, easy to understand, non-discriminatory, and transparent. For example: 

There is general awareness of expectations of, and standards for, responsible business conduct (RBC), including obligations to proactively conduct due diligence to ensure businesses are doing no harm, including with regards to environmental, social, and governance issues.

The GoTT has not put forward a clear definition of responsible business conduct, nor does it have specific policies to promote and encourage it. The GoTT has not conducted a national action plan on RBC, nor does it currently factor it into procurement decisions. The GoTT has not instituted or proposed requirements for businesses to conduct due diligence or reporting regarding human rights.

There are five reports of forced labor over the last 12 months. There are no reported claims in the last five years by indigenous or other communities that a government entity improperly allocated land or natural resources.

There have not been any high-profile, controversial instances of private sector impact on human rights.

TT has laws to ensure protection of human rights, labor rights, consumers, and the environment. However, enforcement is lacking due to staffing shortages, capacity issues, and a bureaucratic judiciary.

The GoTT, in collaboration with civil society, created the TT Corporate Governance Code, which incorporates governance, accounting, and executive compensation standards to protect shareholders. The code, however, is not mandatory.

The Caribbean Corporate Governance Institute is a not-for-profit organization headquartered in TT that freely advocates for responsible business conduct and improved corporate governance practices in the Caribbean.

The GoTT does not encourage adherence to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas. There are no domestic measures requiring supply chain due diligence for companies sourcing minerals originating from conflict-affected areas.

As a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the GoTT publicly declares annually all revenues received from companies engaged in the extractive industries. The companies, in turn, publicly declare payments to the government.

TT is not a signatory of the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies.

Additional Resources

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

Climate Issues

The GoTT has a national climate change policy focused on emissions reduction. The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan outlines the status of biodiversity, the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services to human health and well-being, the threats to biodiversity, and the legal and policy context for implementation.

The GoTT has not yet introduced any policies as incentives to reach net-zero, but it is in dialogue with stakeholders from various sectors on achieving net-zero. There are no regulatory incentives to achieve policy outcomes that preserve biodiversity, clean air, or other desirable ecological benefits. There are no policies targeting particular commodities or supply chains as drivers of deforestation, but the EITI is engaged in promoting greater transparency in this sector. Within the last twelve months, the GoTT has asked ministries to consider environmental considerations when procuring goods and services.

Various pieces of legislation address corruption of public officials:

  • The Integrity in Public Life Act requires public officials to disclose assets upon taking office and at the end of their tenure.
  • The Freedom of Information Act gives members of the public a general right (with specified exceptions) of access to official documents of public authorities. The intention of the act was to address the public’s concerns of corruption and to promote a system of open and good governance. In compliance with the act, designated officers in each ministry and statutory authority process applications for information.
  • The Police Complaints Authority Act establishes a mechanism for complaints against police officers in relation to, among other things, police misconduct and police corruption.
  • The Prevention of Corruption Act provides for certain offences and punishment of corruption in public office.

The laws are non-discriminatory in their infrequent application. Effectiveness of these measures has been limited by a lack of thorough enforcement.

The laws do not extend to family members of officials or to political parties.

TT does not have laws or regulations to counter conflicts of interest in awarding contracts or government procurement.

The GoTT has been a party to the development of corporate governance standards (non-binding) to encourage private companies to establish internal codes of conduct that, among other things, prohibit bribery of public officials.

Some private companies, particularly larger ones, use internal controls and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of government officials, although this is not a GoTT requirement.

TT adheres to the UN Anticorruption Convention.

There are no protections for non-governmental organizations involved in investigating corruption, but investigations are not feared since corrupt actors are rarely punished.

U.S. firms often say corruption is an obstacle to FDI, particularly in government procurement, since TT’s procurement processes are not transparent.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact information for the government agency or agencies that are responsible for combating corruption:

Mr. Rajendra Ramlogan
The Integrity Commission
P.O. Box 1253, Port of Spain
The Integrity Commission of Trinidad and Tobago Level 14, Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, 1A Wrightson Road, Port of Spain

Mr. Dion Abdool
Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (local chapter of Transparency International)
Unit 4-12, Building 7, Fernandes Industrial Centre, Laventille

While non-violent demonstrations occur on occasion, widespread civil disorder is not typical. There have been no serious incidents of political violence since a coup attempt in 1990.

Specific areas of TT are increasingly insecure due to a critical level of violent crime and some business report increased security expenses.

The labor market includes many skilled and experienced workers. TT’s educational level is among the top ten in North America according to the Human Development Index, although there is a gap between official literacy statistics and functional literacy. In 2021, the International Labor Organization estimated an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, while youth unemployment rate (15-24 years of age) was estimated at 12.9 percent. Information on the informal economy is not widely available.

Agricultural employment accounts for 3.6 percent of total employment while employment in services accounts for over 60 percent. The estimated non-agricultural workforce in the informal economy is 10 percent of the overall labor force. TT’s workforce includes not only TT nationals but also citizens of 11 other CARICOM countries as part of the free movement of labor without the need to obtain a work permit. In 2019, TT granted 16,523 Venezuelans the right to work in the country for a period of one year under a temporary protective status. The GoTT has allowed registered Venezuelans one-year extensions on an annual basis; however, according to various local and Venezuelan non-governmental organizations, the process has not been seamless, causing lapses to secure work permits. Media reports suggest some workers have lost employment due to the situation. Some members of the business community have indicated that many migrant workers have returned to their countries of origin due to the unavailability of options following COVID-19 pandemic-related closures.

TT is a net importer of expatriate labor, including doctors, nurses, construction workers, and extractive industry specialists. There is a surplus of accountants and attorneys and a shortage of unskilled workers for the hospitality, retail, and agriculture sectors. The GoTT subsidizes tertiary-level education for citizens whose income falls within a minimum range. The Multi-Sector Skills Training Program provides training in construction and hospitality and tourism for eligible TT citizens. The GoTT also encourages continuing learning opportunities for the disadvantaged via the Multi-Sector Skills Training Program, which develops skills that can aid in the creation of home-based production of goods and services and employment generation.

There is no GoTT policy that requires investors to hire nationals, although it is encouraged, particularly in the energy sector.

There are no restrictions on employers adjusting employment to respond to fluctuating market conditions via severance. Labor laws differentiate between layoffs and firing. The Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act provides guidance on who is entitled to receive what based on specific circumstances. Severance pay is usually only paid to retirees and workers who have been made redundant. An employer is not required to pay severance to workers if everyone is severed and the business is being closed. If, however, only a portion of the workforce is rendered redundant, the employer must pay severance. Unemployment insurance does not exist for workers who have been laid off for economic reasons, but programs designed to help job seekers find employment as quickly as possible are available. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the GoTT instituted a 3-6-month unemployment benefit program for those laid off beginning in 2020.

Labor laws are not waived in order to attract or retain investment. There are no separate labor law provisions for special economic zones, trade zones, or free ports.

Collective bargaining is common, with approximately 15 percent of the population covered by collective bargaining agreements. Government workers, including civil servants, police officers, firefighters, military personnel, and staff in several state-owned enterprises, are covered by collective bargaining agreements. Unions are also quite active in the energy, steel, and telecommunications industries. Collective bargaining takes place between the firm and the recognized majority union rather than on an industry-wide basis. The GoTT as an employer also bargains collectively. The process of collective bargaining is regulated by the Industrial Relations Act. There are close to 30 active, independent labor unions in TT.

The Industrial Relations Act provides for dispute resolution through an industrial court in instances where the issue cannot be resolved by collective bargaining or through conciliation efforts by the Ministry of Labor.

There was no strike in the past year that posed an investment risk.

The International Labor Organization has not identified any compliance gaps in law or practice regarding international labor standards that may pose a reputational risk to investors. The GoTT does not have a labor inspectorate system to identify and remediate labor violations, but the industrial court investigates and prosecutes unfair labor practices, such as harassment and/or improper dismissal of union members.

There were no new labor related laws or regulations enacted or drafted over the last year.

As a high-income country, TT is ineligible for DFC programs.
There is no existing investment guaranty between TT and the DFC.

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2021 $24.3 2021 $24.46
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2021 N/A 2021 $4,148 BEA data available at
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) 2021 N/A 2021 $280 BEA data available at
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2021 N/A 2021 35% UNCTAD data available at

* Source for Host Country Data: Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago,  

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward 8,382 100% Total Outward 1,607 100%
Barbados 2,559 31% Barbados 555 35%
United Kingdom 1,576 19% Saint Lucia 165 10%
United States 833 10% Guyana 22 1%
Saint Lucia 824 10%
Canada 359 4%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Source: IMF Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS). Most recent data available is from 2020. Some data excluded by the reporting economies due to confidentiality.

Valerie Laboy
Economic and Commercial Officer
15 Queens Park West, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
868 622-6371 

On This Page

  2. 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
    1. Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment
    2. Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
    3. Other Investment Policy Reviews
    4. Business Facilitation
    5. Outward Investment
  3. 2. Bilateral Investment and Taxation Treaties
  4. 3. Legal Regime
    1. Transparency of the Regulatory System
    2. International Regulatory Considerations
    3. Legal System and Judicial Independence
    4. Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
    5. Competition and Antitrust Laws
    6. Expropriation and Compensation
    7. Dispute Settlement
      1. ICSID Convention and New York Convention
      2. Investor-State Dispute Settlement
      3. International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
    8. Bankruptcy Regulations
  5. 4. Industrial Policies
    1. Investment Incentives
    2. Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
    3. Performance and Data Localization Requirements
  6. 5. Protection of Property Rights
    1. Real Property
    2. Intellectual Property Rights
  7. 6. Financial Sector
    1. Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
    2. Money and Banking System
    3. Foreign Exchange and Remittances
      1. Foreign Exchange
      2. Remittance Policies
    4. Sovereign Wealth Funds
  8. 7. State-Owned Enterprises
    1. Privatization Program
  9. 8. Responsible Business Conduct
    1. Additional Resources
    2. Climate Issues
  10. 9. Corruption
    1. Resources to Report Corruption
  11. 10. Political and Security Environment
  12. 11. Labor Policies and Practices
  13. 12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and Other Investment Insurance or Development Finance Programs
  14. 13. Foreign Direct Investment Statistics
  15. 14. Contact for More Information
2023 Investment Climate Statements: Trinidad and Tobago
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