In 2012 Trinidad and Tobago had a total value of exports of (US)$19.754 billion, placing the country fourth behind trading giants Mexico, (US)$ 370,827 billon; Venezuela (US)$85.046 billion and Colombia (US)$60.274 billion, all ACS Member States.
However in the area of imports, Trinidad and Tobago did not figure at the top. Import values dropped from (US)$7,231 million in 2011 to (US)$6,484 million in 2013.
Also in 2012, the principal destinations for goods exports from the 25 ACS Member States were the United States (US)$338.837 billion, (60.5 %) followed by China (US)$33.958 billion (5.3%); Canada (US)$30.144 billion (4.7%); India (US)$17.344 billion (2.7%) and Spain (US)$14.265 billion (2.2%).
In the area of imports the main trading partners with ACS Member States were the United States (US)$302.558 billion (48%); China (US)$68.124 billion (10.8%); Japan (US)$29.667 billion or (4.7%); Republic of Korea (US)$17.479 billion (2.8%) and Germany (US)$17.377 billion.
In the area of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) the ACS reported noted that countries in the Greater Caribbean recorded in 2011, inflows of (US)$54,419.49 with the largest chunk going to Colombia (32%), Mexico (25%) with Panama and Venezuela six percent each. The insular Caribbean (island States) received an average of 13.6 percent.
However in 2012, countries of the Greater Caribbean that retained the largest stock of Foreign Direct Investment were Mexico (49.5%), Colombia (17.6%) and Venezuela 7.7 %).
In that same year global FDI, although recorded at (US)$1.35 trillion, had in fact declined by 18 per cent. However, the investment climate in the region continued to remain favourable for FDI and the benefits derived by transnational companies increased slightly.
In recent years FDI inflows to the Greater Caribbean region have been varied because of the effects of the global economic crisis. At the forefront of the inflows was Mexico, which recorded the highest inflows of (US)$34.172 billion (32.49%) followed by Colombia with (US)$29.260 billion (28.8%), Venezuela with (US)$6.994 billion (6.69%) was next and Panama (US)$5.774 billion (5.59%).
In the insular zone Trinidad and Tobago figured in the top two and was the second highest beneficiary with inflows of (US)$4.358 billion (8.49%). Leading the zone was the Dominican Republic with (US)$5.884 billion (5.7%).
The ACS however, did not just indulge in a lot of data and figures. In its executive summary of the Economic Bulletin, the ACS stated that Caribbean economies needed in an objective way “to be inserted in international trade from their own characteristics and perspectives.” Continuing the summary stated, “It is necessary to insist on the real possibilities offered to establish the mechanisms of the trade with in the region and the world.”
“In current conditions, to develop integration processes in the area of the Caribbean is a positive action and strategies that will encourage the economic development of the countries of the region; on the basis of the opportunities, threats, strengths and weaknesses of such economies in order to establish its trade relations with other countries,” the summary added.
“The openness of the countries of the Greater Caribbean has resulted in a renewed effort to deepen existing relationships at all levels, both within the framework of multilateral, regional arrangements as and in the bilateral environment.
“These efforts,” continued the summary, “have been consolidated with the signing of trade agreements between countries and increased co-operation among regional organisations as the ACS and the Caribbean Community (Caricom).”
The summary added that the tightening of relations has brought to the fore gaps which must be addressed and has also demonstrated the need for the formal opening that is accompanied by effort at facilitating business, as well as programmes aimed at reducing high transaction costs; improved procedures and transport costs; facilitating knowledge of Customs and streamlining processes, while addressing the difficulties of small business participation and improving access to information and knowledge of markets. The summary advised that facilitating regional trade would allow for additional growth opportunities for regional companies; achieve support in nearby markets with the chance to investigate new and expanded business opportunities.
“Markets in the Caribbean as a whole represent a high commercial value and whose full potential was yet to be expected,” the summary added.
Continuing, the summary stated, “It is important to show the potential of these countries to carry out strong and targeted regional integration, which is achieved as core aspects assimilate process interlinking of economies. For these countries, Caribbean integration constitutes an alternative independent development, which takes place from new bases with a multi-dimensional character and has as its fundamental objective to adopt strategies to ensure better levels of economic development.”
The summary then made the point that is was necessary to develop various actions to effect integration in the Caribbean Zone that would strongly boost the distorted economies of the Region.