Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago

Population 1.4 million
GDP 17,056 US$
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major macro economic indicators

  2020 2021 2022 (e) 2023 (f)
GDP growth (%) -7.5 -0.8 2.5 3.2
Inflation (yearly average, %) 0.6 2.1 5.8 5.6
Budget balance (% GDP) -11.0 -6.1 -0.2 -1.1
Current account balance (% GDP) 0.1 8.0 14.8 10.8
Public debt (% GDP) 82.0 85.0 84.4 77.0

(e): Estimate (f): Forecast *Fiscal year 2023 from 1st October 2023 to 30th September 2024


  • Large oil and gas reserves; world’s ninth-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (2020)
  • Petrochemical industry (world’s No.1 exporter of methanol, world No.6 for ammonia) supported by gas production
  • Attractive tourist destination
  • Large sovereign wealth fund (around 25% of GDP) and foreign exchange reserves (7 months of imports)
  • Leading country in Caricom, the Caribbean community


  • On the European list of "non-cooperative tax jurisdictions" since 2021
  • Poorly diversified economy due to dependence on gas and petrochemical revenues
  • Low efficiency of public action
  • Crime amplified by drug trafficking
  • Unequal distribution of revenues generated by hydrocarbons (20% of the population lives below the poverty line)
  • Tensions between Afro-Trinidadians and Indo-Trinidadians


Resilient growth thanks to hydrocarbons

After two years of recession, 2022 economic recovery was driven by petrochemical exports (40% of GDP in 2021 and 61% of exports in 2019), while the Covid-19 vaccination plan targeting more than 70% of the population facilitated the country's reopening to tourism (around 8% of GDP in 2019).   In 2023, growth will still benefit from high energy prices, but inflation and fiscal prudence will limit it somewhat. Exports of liquefied natural gas (34% of the total in 2021), methanol (14%), and crude oil (11%) will ride high on durably favourable energy prices. In addition, production should benefit from the ramp-up and commissioning of the Delaware and Ruby (BHP), Bounty and Endeavour (Shell's 5c project) hydrocarbon fields. Outside of hydrocarbons, high fertiliser prices would support ammonia exports (9% of exports in 2021), while tourism revenues are expected to continue their rebound following the lifting of health orders and restrictions. By contrast, exports of ferrous and aluminised metals (10% of the total) and agricultural products (3% of exports) (coffee, citrus fruits, cocoa and sugar cane) could suffer from the weaker foreign trade environment. Private investment, encouraged by energy prices, will also support activity. In particular, BP's Cypre project will begin to materialise during 2023. In addition, the privatisation of the Port of Spain container terminal should also attract investment.   While inflation is expected to moderate due to the tightening of monetary policy and extended fuel subsidies, it is still likely to remain high and damp household spending. Economic slowdowns in the US and UK are likely to drag on the rebound in tourism in early 2023. On the balance of transfers side, profits repatriated by foreign companies should stabilise due to reinvestments in the country. The current account surplus will make it possible to maintain foreign exchange reserves at a comfortable level (covering at least 7 months of imports) and to ensure the stability of the Trinidadian dollar (between 0.14 and 0.16 USD).

The budget deficit decreased in 2022. The increase in energy exports (about 30% of tax revenues in 2022) has increased government revenues. The gaming tax, introduced in 2021, has generated new tax revenues (9% of GDP in 2022). The phasing-out of support measures taken during the pandemic (fiscal stimulus, subsidies) has reduced public spending. The budget deficit is expected to increase only moderately in 2023. Gas exports and world energy prices will continue to drive up government revenues. Royalties from the oil and gas sectors are expected to reach a record high (3.2% of GDP in 2023). Improved domestic spending should increase non-energy tax revenues (13% of GDP). Tax reforms, including the creation of a new property tax, would further reduce the fiscal deficit (up to 0.5% of GDP reduction in 2023). The extension of household subsidies and fuel price caps, in addition to the increase in the police budget (10% of the budget), would only slightly increase current public expenditure. The Trinidad and Tobago Sovereign Wealth and Stabilisation Fund (TWSF) which contributes approximately between 20% and 25% of GDP would finance the public deficit. The public debt-to-GDP ratio should stabilise by 2024.


A climate of insecurity and a fragmented society

Prime Minister Keith Rowley, the centrist leader of the People's National Movement (PNM), has been at the head of the government since 2015 and was re-elected in 2020 with an absolute parliamentary majority, winning 22 out of 41 seats.  Some of the Rowley government's reforms requiring more than a simple majority could nevertheless be hampered. The centre-left opposition, embodied by the United National Congress (LCNU, with 19 seats), is led by former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (between 2010 and 2015). The next general election is scheduled to be held in 2025. Until then, the government's popularity is expected to continue to suffer from the climate of insecurity. Progress in the fight against crime, particularly drug trafficking, remains limited. The homicide rate has risen significantly over the past decade. Social tensions, added to the ethnic tensions existing between Afro-Trinidadians (PNM electorate) and Indo-Trinidadians (LCNU electorate), could intensify amid rising inflation.  Recurring demonstrations against the high cost of living, corruption, the vaccination policy and police violence could also continue. 


Last updated: April 2023

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