Inside Trinidad and Tobago’s Manufacturing Landscape

By Sean Galea-Pace
Manufacturing Global examines Trinidad and Tobago’s manufacturing industry and the benefits that operating in the country brings...

When setting up a new manufacturing operation or preparing for an expansion project, location is key. Trinidad and Tobago, located 10 kilometers off the coast of Venezuela, is the southernmost island in the Caribbean Archipelago and lies at the crossroads to South, Central, and North America. This small twin-island republic offers many location advantages to global manufacturers in need of the right business location. 

With a dominant oil and gas industry, Trinidad and Tobago offers the second cheapest electricity rate in the western hemisphere starting at US$0.03 per KWH which is supported by a robust national grid. This enables the development of opportunities in a number of manufacturing sub-sectors, primarily Food, Beverage and Tobacco Product Manufacturing; Pulp Manufacturing; Printing and related support activities; Inorganic Chemicals; Organic Chemicals; Resins; and Agricultural Chemicals.

Regional and international market access is available to over 965 million people via the country’s established trading agreements with territories that include CARICOM, European Community, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, USA, Colombia, and Venezuela. Electricity-intensive manufacturers operating in the country have the added benefit of ready access to large markets in close proximity through the existing robust infrastructure of supporting logistics.

As the country’s third-largest contributor to its overall GDP after energy and services, the manufacturing industry employs approximately 8.2% of the labour force at over 270 registered manufacturers. This includes industries across seven distinct sub-industries. The largest sub-industry - Food, Beverages and Tobacco includes the production of alcoholic beverages, carbonated beverages, juices, cereals, chocolate, confectionery, canned foods, baked goods, and tobacco products. These industries are supported by a highly-skilled labour pool trained at secondary, tertiary, and technical levels of the education system.

Many fiscal incentives are awarded to large scale manufacturers under the provisions of the Fiscal Incentives Act Chapter 85:01. Projects qualifying for the fiscal incentives usually fall within one of the five classifications outlined in the Act. Under the provisions of the Fiscal Incentives Act, an organisation can benefit from exemptions from, customs duties on the construction of an approved project, Value Added Tax, and Income Tax on dividends or other distributions, other than interest, out of profits or gains derived from the manufacture of the approved product during the tax holiday period.

Under the Third Schedule of the Customs Act, Chapter 78:01, import duty concessions are awarded to qualifying manufacturers that produce products locally in Trinidad and Tobago. Import Duty Concessions enable qualifying manufacturers to receive concessions on import duties for items they import as suppliers, in order to meet their manufacturing needs. Import duty concessions are offered in the following areas for the manufacture and processing of specified products: raw materials, machinery, equipment, and in some cases packaging material.

The Phoenix Park Industrial Estate, the country’s latest industrial park project, is strategically located in the southern region of Trinidad and is actively seeking both domestic and international investors interested in establishing operations on the island. In addition to Manufacturing operations, the Park is also geared towards the tenanting of businesses operating in the Assembly, Logistics & Distribution, and ICT industries. Outfitted with modern facilities and infrastructure, the Phoenix Park offers tenants a generous amount of space for uninterrupted business operations, supported by easy access to shipping port facilities. Available spaces, all offered at competitive rates, include 76 leasable lots for light industrial activity, 2 leasable lots for commercial activity, 5 factory shells, and lot sizes ranging from 0.5 to 2.1 and 10 acres. 

The country’s national Investment Promotion Agency(IPA), InvesTT is internationally recognized for excellence in the provision of services to guide investors considering to establish a presence or expand their footprint in Trinidad and Tobago. The agency has received many accolades including its latest award, Best to Invest Top Agency Award, recognizing the IPA as one of the top four IPAs in the region of Central America, the Caribbean & South America, received in 2020 from Site Selection Magazine. 

InvesTT offers its full slate of services to investors considering Trinidad and Tobago as their investment destination for their manufacturing and other non-energy projects such as IT, agriculture and agro-processing, maritime services, creative industries, financial services, and tourism. The experienced team of industry experts at InvesTT works in partnership with investors from the beginning of their site selection process, all the way through to the launch of the business, and also provides aftercare services to ensure successful operations.

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