A Caribbean twin island country located off South America’s northern coast, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago shipped US$8.6 billion worth of products around the globe in 2021. That dollar amount reflects a -9.5% decline compared to the total $9.5 billion in 2017.
Year over year, the value of Trinidad and Tobago’s exported goods accelerated by 55.9% from $5.5 billion during 2020.
Trinidad and Tobago’s top 5 most valuable exported products are ammonia, acyclic alcohols, crude oil, iron ore reduced products, and nitrogenous fertilizers. Added together, that quintet of major goods represent over two-thirds (69%) of the overall value of Trinidad and Tobago’s exports.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Top Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that more than three-quarters (78.9%) of the total value for products exported from Trinidad and Tobago were bought by importers in: United States of America (41.6% of the global total), Guyana (6.7%), Mexico (4.3%), France (3.7%), Belgium (3.6%), Colombia (3.44%), South Korea (3.42%), Morocco (3.2%), Brazil (2.6%), Jamaica (2.2%), Spain (2.1%), then mainland China (2%).
From a continental perspective, 47.9% of Trinidad and Tobago’s exports by value were delivered to North American countries while 25.5% were sold to importers in Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Trinidad and Tobago shipped another 15.5% worth of its goods to Europe.
Smaller percentages went to Asia (7.3%), Africa (3.6%) then Oceania (0.2%) led by Australia.
Given Trinidad and Tobago’s population of 1.41 million people, its total $8.6 billion in 2021 exports translates to about $6,100 for every resident in the Caribbean nation. That dollar metric is less than the average $6,600 per capita one year earlier during 2020.
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Trinidadian/Tobagonian global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Trinidad and Tobago.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$2.3 billion (27.3% of total exports)
- Inorganic chemicals: $1.7 billion (19.9%)
- Organic chemicals: $1.6 billion (18.3%)
- Iron, steel: $845.1 million (9.8%)
- Fertilizers: $745.6 million (8.7%)
- Ships, boats: $271.9 million (3.2%)
- Machinery including computers: $124.1 million (1.4%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $109.2 million (1.3%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: $95.1 million (1.1%)
- Miscellaneous food preparations: $71.4 million (0.8%)
Trinidad and Tobago’s top 10 exports accounted for 91.8% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Ships and boats represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 275.6% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales were inorganic chemicals via a 154.4% advance.
Trinidad and Tobago’s shipments of organic chemicals posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 93.9%.
The lone decliner among Trinidad and Tobago’s top 10 export categories was machinery including computers. That product category dropped -38% versus 2020.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Trinidad and Tobago’s most valuable export product was ammonia at 19.6% of the global total. Close behind in second place were acyclic alcohols (17.8%) trailed by crude oil (13.7%), iron ore-reduced products (9.2%), nitrogenous fertilizers (8.7%) then refined petroleum oils (7.1%), petroleum gases (6.4%), cruise or cargo ships and barges (2.8%), non-alcoholic drinks excluding water, juice and milk (1%), then mixed sauces, condiments, and seasonings (0.7%).
Products Generating Largest Trade Surpluses for Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago achieved an overall $2.8 billion trade surplus for 2021. That amount of black ink reflects a 344.1% expansion from the $640.7 million surplus in 2020.
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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$2.3 billion (Up by 25.6% since 2020)
- Inorganic chemicals: $1.7 billion (Up by 161.5%)
- Organic chemicals: $1.5 billion (Up by 95.9%)
- Fertilizers: $738.1 million (Up by 90.6%)
- Iron, steel: $723.3 million (Up by 88.8%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $52.6 million (Up by 71.4%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: $29.3 million (Up by 2.5%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $24.3 million (Down by -13.3%)
- Gems, precious metals: $4.4 million (Up by 59.4%)
- Glass: $3.9 million (Reversing a -$4.9 million deficit)
Trinidad and Tobago generated highly positive net exports in the international trade of petroleum gases and refined petroleum oils. In turn, these cashflows indicate Trinidad and Tobago’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels including oil product category.
Products Causing Worst Trade Deficits for Trinidad and Tobago
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.
- Machinery including computers: -US$731.2 million (Up by 22.6% since 2020)
- Ores, slag, ash: -$523.7 million (Up by 87.7%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$446 million (Up by 121.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$254.5 million (Up by 5.5%)
- Vehicles: -$250.3 million (Down by -24.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$201 million (Up by 29%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$188.6 million (Up by 23.1%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$126 million (Up by 7.6%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$106.5 million (Down by -12.4%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -$96.3 million (Reversing a $9.2 million surplus)
Trinidad and Tobago incurred highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers category.
Trinidadian and 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)
In macroeconomic terms, Trinidad and Tobago’s total exported goods represent 22.8% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($37.7 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 22.8% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 19.2% for 2020. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Trinidad and Tobago’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Trinidad and Tobago’s unemployment rate averaged 4.805% for 2021, up from an average 4.6% in 2020 according to Trading Economics.
Trinidad and Tobago’s capital city is Port-of-Spain, which also serves as the nation’s largest cargo port.
See also America’s Top Trading Partners, Mexico’s Top Trading Partners, Guyana’s Top 10 Exports, Mexico’s Top Trading Partners and Exported Paintings and Drawings by Country
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on July 31, 2022
Forbes 2017 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 31, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity) Accessed on July 31, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 31, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 31, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Trinidad and Tobago. Accessed on July 31, 2022
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