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Putting Wealth to Work

Sep 1, 2001

Oil revenues have made Trinidad & Tobago a rich little country and exporter of capital. The government's challenge is to channel some of that money into the local economy.

Vast offshore deposits of natural gas surround the tiny island republic of Trinidad  &  Tobago. With crude oil revenues generating 77% of the country's foreign exchange revenues, and probable natural gas reserves of up to 80 trillion cubic feet lying within its jurisdiction, Trinidad&Tobago is an island of wealth. Last year, the country attracted the highest level of foreign direct investment on a per capita basis for a western hemisphere country. Its $5,126 per capita income was the highest in the Caribbean. Since 1995, an annual average of $1 billion in foreign direct investment has poured into Trinidad  &  Tobago, coming mostly from oil and gas companies paying to develop the country's natural gas reserves. Yet Trinidad  &  Tobago cannot absorb the capital inflows. According to the central bank, Trinidadian financial institutions exported $352 million in capital in 1999 in the form of bank lending, acquisitions and bond...

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