Welcome to Trinidad and Tobago, your gateway to the Americas. Backed by over 100 years of success in the global energy industry and with a proven track record of foreign direct investment, Trinidad and Tobago is the leading Caribbean producer of oil and natural gas. Trinidad and Tobago has earned a reputation as an excellent investment location for international businesses and has one of the highest growth rates and per-capita income in the Caribbean and Latin America.
The energy sector has been strengthened by growth in the downstream petrochemical segment. At Point Lisas, on the western coast of Trinidad, resides the core of the country’s industrial complexes and ports, where there have been investments in petrochemicals —ammonia, urea, methanol and iron and steel. In fact, Trinidad and Tobago is the largest exporter of ammonia and methanol from a single site. Further south on the same coast, are four (4) Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) trains with one being the sixth largest exporter of LNG globally. Other industrial estates currently taking shape that would provide the necessary infrastructure for new projects. At the forefront of all petrochemical and energy-based industrial development is the National Energy Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (National Energy). A member of the NGC Group of Companies.
National Energy‘s role in the facilitation of new industry development
National Energy has pioneered several energy related developments in Trinidad and Tobago and as a result of our wealth of experience, we are poised and ready to welcome you to participate in Trinidad and Tobago’s world – renowned energy sector. We are the State organisation responsible for the promotion, development and facilitation of new energy- based and downstream industries in Trinidad and Tobago. National Energy has been at the forefront of energy-based development for over 35 years and as such is the first point of contact for investment opportunities in the downstream energy sub-sector. We deliver value to potential investors by partnering with them to advance projects from conceptualization to Final Investment Decision to construction. We do this through experts in the sector, strategic alliances and ready infrastructure such as industrial estates and ports.
We facilitate investment by providing the requisite support and assistance in the management of the project development process. Namely we:
- Employ an effective project management procedure that involves a stage-gate process for advancing projects.
- Present or assist potential investor in the presentation of projects for approvals to the relevant Government Ministries/Committees
- Assist with information/data to assist in making a Final Investment Decision
- Provide guidance and assistance on the acquisition of regulatory approvals.
- Introduce the project to relevant stakeholders, regulatory agencies and service providers.
- Facilitate negotiations of contracts
- Identify and prepare site and other infrastructure requirements.
National Energy is focused on further development in six key sectors:
Currently, land is available at our Union Industrial Estate (UIE) which has been prepared to handle heavy and light downstream gas based industries. The Estate is supplied with all amenities including natural gas supply, drainage, water and telecommunications. UIE is also supported by the Port of Brighton.
Benefits of Investing in Trinidad and Tobago
Investing in Trinidad and Tobago is beneficial as investors enjoy:
- Highly developed oil, petrochemical and steel industries.
- Access to developed and emerging markets through trade agreements
- Competitive energy costs
- Excellent investor facilitation services.
- Competitive raw material costs and availability.
- Competitive fiscal incentives
- Excellent infrastructure and support services for heavy industries as evidenced by the already developed industrial parks
- Excellent living standards and communities for foreign nationals and their families
- No foreign exchange controls
- Excellent infrastructure and support services for heavy industries as evidenced by the already developed industrial parks
- Advanced education and training facilities—e.g. The University of the West Indies (UWI), the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and international schools
Details of Supporting Infrastructure
Union Industrial Estate & Port of Brighton
Land is currently available at our Union Industrial Estate (UIE) which has been prepared to handle heavy and light downstream gas based industries. The Estate is supplied with all amenities including natural gas supply, drainage, water and telecommunications. It is located approximately 1 km away from the La Brea Industrial Estate (LABIDCO) which provides acreage for the energy services industry.
UIE is supported by the Port of Brighton which is just four (4) Km away and consists of a dock designed to accommodate Handymax vessels with a depth of 12.8m chart datum.
Trinidad and Tobago is home to the world renowned Point Lisas Industrial Estate located on the western coast of Trinidad. The Estate is a hub for a variety of petrochemical plants including 11 ammonia plants, 7 methanol plants, a urea manufacturing plant, a natural gas-to-liquids processing facility and a steel mill. Point Lisas is also the site of two (2) power stations and a large reverse osmosis water desalination plant.
National Energy has earmarked new sites in the Point Lisas area - Point Lisas North and Point Lisas South/East for industrial development. The proposed sites will be supported by the already established and well-known Port of Point Lisas, which is a multipurpose cargo facility operating on a 24/7 basis with six (6) commercial berths.
The twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago, is a small but high-income country. With a population of 1.3 million people and rich in natural resources, it has one of the highest GDP per capita in Latin America and the Caribbean (US$17,640 in 2016, Atlas method). The economy is largely based on oil and gas production, with the petroleum and petrochemical industries accounting for about 37 percent of GDP and ores and mineral fuels over 70 percent of exports (2016 data). The country has also become a major financial center in the Caribbean.
On the upside, Trinidad and Tobago can count on a low level of public indebtedness, adequate financial buffers, a solid human capital, and overall political stability.
Currently the largest Caribbean exporter to the USA and with access to regional and international markets of over 90 million people, Trinidad and Tobago can facilitate entrance to ready markets in close proximity, for companies seeking to grow their business in the Caribbean and the Americas. With a highly skilled workforce backed by a steady financial and political climate and a competitive tax regime, Trinidad and Tobago will prove to be an ideal investment location for you.
Trinidad and Tobago Tax System.
The principal taxes in Trinidad and Tobago are income tax, corporation tax, business levy, various petroleum taxes, value added tax (VAT), withholding tax and customs and excise duties. There are no restrictions on repatriation of capital, profits, dividends, interest, distributions or gains on Investment.
Corporate Tax Rates
Corporation tax is charged at a rate of 25% on chargeable profits and short term capital gains for companies in the downstream energy-based manufacturing sub-sector and other types manufacturing concerns. A rate of 35% is applied for companies engaged in liquefaction of natural gas, manufacture of petrochemicals, transmission and distribution of natural gas and wholesale marketing and distribution of petroleum products.
Business levy at the rate of 0.2% is charged yearly on the gross income of a company The company is entitled to a tax credit against its business levy liability for a year of income of any payment made in respect of its corporation tax liability for that year up to a maximum of its business levy liability.
Green Fund Levy
Green Fund Levy is charged at the rate of 0.1% of the company’s gross income, that is, all income received in the ordinary course of business before allowing any deductions for business expenses.
Tax Treatment of Losses
For corporation tax purposes, a company's ordinary trading losses may be carried forward and set off against the first available future profits (excluding short-term capital gains), without time limit. Losses may not be carried back.
Link to the Central Bank for further information
For further information:
A closer look at the Energy Sector
Over the years Trinidad and Tobago has maintained a steady oil and gas exploration programme on land and in shallow water, with cumulative production totaling over three (3) billion barrels of oil. While oil dominated the hydrocarbon sector in the early years, natural gas became the driver in the early 1990s.
Energy continues to be the mainstay of the economy, as it accounts for 42.1%of GDP. As Trinidad and Tobago continues to be a global player in the energy industry, there is a critical thrust to maintain its competitive edge in the international market in order to attract and retain capital investment.
Organisation of the Energy Sector in Trinidad and Tobago
The Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries (MEEI) is responsible for the overall management of the energy and mineral sectors in Trinidad and Tobago.
The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (GORTT) plans to diversify the economy by sustaining and maintaining high levels of growth and competitiveness through downstream energy sector development which will provide support for growth of the local manufacturing sector. GORTT’s long range approach to natural gas utilisation and development is underpinned by sustainable development.
Major Players in the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Sector
Trinidad and Tobago is well-known for its stable business landscape as evidenced by the continued investment of international companies such as BP, Shell, BHP Billiton and EOG Resources. The country continues to attract the interest of new international players in the offshore bid rounds. In the last two years, BP and BHP Billiton signed seven (7) deep water production sharing contracts valued at US$1.9 billion aimed at finding new oil provinces in our deep-water area, aptly coined the “New Horizon.”
Extractive Industry Transparency Index (EITI) Country Status
It should be noted that the country attained Extractive Industry Transparency Index (EITI) Country Status on March 1st 2013 and the first report was published in September 2013. This represents the first independent reconciliation of Trinidad and Tobago’s oil and gas revenues, a significant policy and paradigm shift as it relates to transparency, accountability and good governance on the part of the State.
Foreign Investment Incentives
Trinidad and Tobago is a stable English speaking democracy with a strong energy sector, and is recognized as the region’s capital for financial services. It is strategically located as a prime commercial gateway between North and South America. Trinidad and Tobago is business friendly, agile and welcomes foreign investment
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is encouraged by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago (GORTT) in almost all sectors. Notably, the petrochemical sector has received the majority of FDI. As such, there are no restrictions or disincentives to investment. Foreign ownership of companies is permitted and welcomed under the Foreign Investment Act (1990).
Trinidad and Tobago possesses a favorable tax system and a robust regulatory framework that can be beneficial to investors. Additionally, investors are able to access fiscal incentives once all requirements are met; benefit from low utility costs and gain entrance to the Americas marketplace.
Enablers include credit ratings that compare favourably across the region. In April 2017 Moody’s bestowed upon Trinidad & Tobago an investment grade of Ba 1. Standard and Poor’s rating services confirmed a BBB+ rating on the twin island republic. Our financial system which accounts for 12 per cent of GDP, is well-organised, soundly-regulated and plays a pivotal role in the economy. The Central Bank of Trinidad & Tobago operates independent of Government in determining monetary policy and setting discount rates and reserve requirements. It regulates operations of the commercial banks and other financial institutions.
Fiscal Incentives available to Investors
The Government’s economic policy is geared towards the development of a robust and open, market-driven economy. The Government has made a commitment to actively encourage foreign investment in Trinidad and Tobago. As such, legislation removing restrictions on foreign investment and providing various incentives to investors has been enacted.
Various forms of tax relief and other incentives may be applied for and obtained under the Trinidad and Tobago Free Zones Act, Chap. 81:07 and the Fiscal Incentives Act, Chap. 85:01. Both statutes require that certain prerequisites be satisfied before a company can become eligible for the tax relief benefits offered.
The Incentive Regime is comprised of:
- Fiscal Exemptions
- Import Duty Concessions
- Research and Development Facility
- Free Zones
Cost Benefits and Incentives Free Trade Zone
The country has comparable incentives to other regional locations. Investors can benefit from being located in a free zone where they are exempted from customs duties, value added tax and income tax on dividends for an indefinite period. There is 100 percent ownership of locally registered companies; no foreign exchange controls, and companies can enjoy full repatriation of funds. Incentives for staff training will also be considered based on the specific needs of the operator.
Trinidad and Tobago provides access to an extended market of over 700 million people through bilateral trade agreements with Venezuela, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, France, USA, Canada, Cuba and Europe. The country also participates in a trade programme known collectively as the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), which is a vital element of the United States' economic relations with its neighbours in Central America and the Caribbean.
Trinidad and Tobago has been ranked 1st for cost effectiveness in Central America and the Caribbean. Electricity rates within Trinidad and Tobago start as low as US$0.03/KWh offering Investors access to some of the lowest electricity tariffs in the Western Hemisphere, and significantly lower than average rates.
Low Operational Costs
Based on a cost comparison by FDI Benchmarks (a service of Financial Times Limited 2015) Trinidad and Tobago is the second cheapest location for business within the Caribbean and Latin American regions when the costs of electricity, water, telecoms and natural gas are compared.
Under the Fiscal Incentives Act Chapter, 85:01, large scale manufacturing including petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals or processing companies established in Trinidad and Tobago can receive an exemption from paying customs duties, value added tax on the costs related to the production of approved products and or services
Import Duty Concessions
Manufacturing enterprises are allowed duty free treatment on their raw materials, machinery and equipment, and in some cases packaging material based upon the provisions of the country’s Customs Act.
Profit Remittance and Capital Repatriation
There are no restrictions on repatriation of capital, profits, dividends, interest, distributions or gains on investment. Repatriation may be effected through the commercial banking sector. There remains the liability to pay withholding tax, where applicable.
Allowances for Capital Costs
All companies carrying on a trade, business, or profession are entitled to annual wear and tear allowances on their machinery and equipment, calculated according to the declining-balance method. In the first year, the initial and annual allowances are calculated on cost. Thereafter, annual allowances are calculated on the balance of cost after deducting the allowances previously granted.The rates of annual wear and tear allowances are not set out in the legislation, but the following are approximate rates that are acceptable to the Board of Inland Revenue:
Accelerated tax depreciation is allowed to manufacturers in the form of an initial allowance at the rate of 90 percent on capital expenditure on plant and machinery. For those companies engaged in the production of petrochemicals, or enjoying concessions under the Fiscal Incentives Act, the rate is 20 percent in the following categories:
- Buildings and Improvements
- Plant and machinery, motor vehicles, furniture
- Heavy equipment, trucks, computer equipment
- Aircraft and Extra Heavy Equipment
The Foreign Investment Act provides for the acquisition by foreign investors of an interest in land or shares in local private or public companies and for the formation of companies by foreign investors. In summary, the Foreign Investment Act, 1990 makes the following provisions.
Provisions of the Foreign Investment Act, 1990
A foreign investor is permitted to own 100 percent of the share capital in a private company, but prior to the investment the Minister of Finance must be notified.
Foreign investors are permitted to own up to 30 percent in total of the share capital of a local public company without a licence.
A licence is required to permit foreign investors to own more than 30 percent in total of the share capital of a public company.
A foreign investor may acquire interest in land for business purposes up to five acres without having to acquire a licence. For any further acreage in excess of the five acre limit, a license must be acquired from the Minister of Finance prior to acquiring such acreage. By locating operations in Trinidad and Tobago, investors will be able to access a suite of fiscal incentives. Additionally, they can have confidence in knowing that Trinidad and Tobago possesses a strong financial system, comparatively low operating costs, market access to the 700 million plus people that make up North and South America region and that investments are welcomed and respected..