Bilateral trade between T&T and India during 2010-2011 amounted to US$140.75 million, according to Mahavir Bhardwaj, first secretary, economics and commerce, Indian High Commission.In an interview last Friday, Bhardwaj said that several items constitute India's export basket to T&T.
They include: pharmaceuticals, iron and steel, rice and other foodstuffs, chemicals, cosmetics, gems and jewelry, plastic products, garments, transportation equipment, non-ferrous metals, sports goods, paints, footwear, carpets and leather.
Items of export from T&T include scrap metals, wood and wood products, asphalt,chemicals and liquefied natural gas (LNG)."Bilateral trade relations between India and T&T have considerable potential. India's exports to this country showed exponential growth from US$8.8 million in 2001 to US$312.27 million in 2008-09. However, trade figures between the two countries for 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 have gone down principally on account of the global recession. T&T exports to India have shown a decline principally because of the shortfall in LNG exports, and the economy having been severely impacted by the global downturn, which has led to a negative rate of growth," Bhardwaj said.
"T&T exports should increase with the Government's intervention in encouraging exports beyond Caricom and South American markets, as well as with the mission's consistent efforts in encouraging business and investments."
The trade agreement signed between India and T&T in January 1991 accords most favoured nation (MFN) status to each other. There is also double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) in place."T&T needs to work beyond its immediate neighbourhood, and India, being the most favoured investment destination globally, could be pursued by T&T investors."
Bhardwaj said that T&T offers good investment opportunities to Indian businessmen. Power supply is abundant at reasonable cost."Opportunities abound in manufacturing, including pharmaceuticals, packaging and marketing in the region."New India Assurance has a T&T subsidiary, providing general insurance. Life Insurance Corporation of India has conducted preliminary survey of the market. Bank of Baroda has set up full-time banking operations in Port-of-Spain in 2007, and, in July 2009, opened branches in Chaguanas and San Fernando, with further expansion on the cards.
India's ArcelorMittal is the largest exporter in T&T outside the energy sector and Essar Steel is intent on constructing a $1.7 billion steel plant. ArcelorMittal also holds 50 per cent share in Intercommercial Bank Ltd with corresponding facilities with ICICI Bank in India. India is ranked fourth for potential investment in T&T.
The Reliance Group, which signed a memorandum of understanding in July with the National Gas Company (NGC) to invest US$1 billion in a bitumen-upgrader plant in Trinidad.