Trinidad and Tobago’s Top 10 Exports

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A Caribbean twin island country located off South America’s northern coast, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago shipped US$8.4 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017.

That dollar amount reflects a -49.1% decline since 2013 and a -0.1% slowdown from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, exported goods plus services from Trinidad and Tobago represent 47.5% of total Trinidadian/Tobagonian economic output or Gross Domestic Product. Please note that the overall value of exported goods and services includes a sizable share of re-exports. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective and using 2015 data, 44% of Trinidadian/Tobagonian exports were delivered to North America. In second place at 35.4% were customers in Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Smaller percentages were sent to Europe (14%), Asia (4.3%) then Africa (1.4%).

Given Trinidad and Tobago’s population of 1.2 million people, its total $8.4 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $6,900 for every resident in the Caribbean nation.

Trading Economics forecasts Trinidad and Tobago’s unemployment rate to be 5% as of June 2018.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Trinidadian/Tobagonian global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Trinidad and Tobago.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$4.2 billion (50.2% of total exports)
  2. Organic chemicals: $1.5 billion (18.2%)
  3. Inorganic chemicals: $1.2 billion (14.3%)
  4. Iron, steel: $567.7 million (6.7%)
  5. Fertilizers: $338.7 million (4%)
  6. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $76.4 million (0.9%)
  7. Cereal/milk preparations: $44 million (0.5%)
  8. Fish: $38.5 million (0.5%)
  9. Paper, paper items: $34.3 million (0.4%)
  10. Miscellaneous food preparations: $25 million (0.3%)

Trinidad and Tobago’s top 10 exports are highly concentrated, accounting for 96% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Two top product categories increased in value from 2016 to 2017, namely organic chemicals (up 59.2%) trailed by iron and steel (up 49.9%).

Leading the year-over-year decliners were exported miscellaneous food preparations (down -41.9%), fish (down -41%) then cereal or milk preparations (down -35.8%).

Advantages

Overall Trinidad and Tobago achieved a $3.1 billion trade surplus for 2017, up by 27.6% from 2016.

The following types of Trinidadian/Tobagonian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$3.2 billion (Down by -11.4% since 2016)
  2. Organic chemicals: $1.5 billion (Up by 60.5%)
  3. Inorganic chemicals: $1.2 billion (Down by -3.4%)
  4. Iron, steel: $452.5 million (Up by 59.9%)
  5. Fertilizers: $334.7 million (Down by -0.6%)
  6. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $23.1 million (Down by -22.6%)
  7. Fish: $13.1 million (Down by -63.2%)
  8. Gems, precious metals: $2 million (Reversing a -$14.5 million deficit)
  9. Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $741,000 (Down by -95.9%)
  10. Nickel: $325,000 (Down by -58.1%)

Trinidad and Tobago has highly positive net exports in the international trade of petroleum gases and, to a lesser degree, refined petroleum oils. In turn, these cashflows indicate Trinidad and Tobago’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels including oil product category.

Opportunities

Below are exports from Trinidad and Tobago that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Trinidad and Tobago’s goods trail Trinidadian/Tobagonian importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Machinery including computers: -US$747.3 million (Down by -11.4% since 2016)
  2. Vehicles : -$401.4 million (Down by -5.2%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$368.8 million (Down by -0.5%)
  4. Ores, slag, ash: -$235.5 million (Up by 97.9%)
  5. Articles of iron or steel: -$145.2 million (Down by -34.1%)
  6. Plastics, plastic articles: -$144 million (Down by -8.2%)
  7. Dairy, eggs, honey: -$108.6 million (Up by 20%)
  8. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$100.7 million (Down by -14.5%)
  9. Aircraft, spacecraft: -$97.8 million (Up by 55.4%)
  10. Meat: -$85.8 million (Up by 4%)

Trinidad and Tobago has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers category.

Companies

Trinidadian/Tobagonian Export Companies

Not one Trinidadian/Tobagonian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.

Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Trinidad and Tobago. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Atlantic LNG (natural gas)
  • Atlas Engineering Limited (construction materials)
  • Bermudez Biscuit Company (confectionary foods)
  • Carib Brewery (alcoholic beverages)
  • Flavorite Ice Cream (dairy products)
  • Kiss Baking Company Limited (baked goods)
  • National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (natural gas)
  • Petrotrin (oil, gas)
  • S. M. Jaleel and Company (beverages)
  • Solo Beverage Company (soft drinks)

Trinidad and Tobago’s capital city is Port-of-Spain, which also serves as the nation’s largest cargo port.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

See also Exported Paintings and Drawings by Country, Chile’s Top Trading Partners and Capital Facts for Port-of-Spain

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 26, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on June 26, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on June 26, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 26, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Trinidad and Tobago. Accessed on June 26, 2018

Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 26, 2018