CNN's business correspondent Ali Velshi expects there to be a further decline in US demand for T&T's natural gas. "Yes generally," he answered when the question was posed to him by the T&T Guardian, "but it is tied to if there is economic growth or stagnation. If we have economic growth the US cannot produce enough natural gas in the short term to change your situation. If we have no growth there is no need for more gas. The idea of greater natural gas use and production is in play but we are declining in consumption in the United States. We are declining in use of all energy," he said. Velshi spoke with local media yesterday at the Unit Trust Corporation's (UTC) Investor Conference 2011 at the Hyatt, Port-of-Spain. Presently, 40 per cent of the LNG requirements of US comes from T&T.
He added that shale gas, which was becoming an alternative to foreign natural gas, was expected to become more popular in the US. "With the economy the way it is going in the US, the resistance to shale gas is going to collapse. Resistance to shale gas was largely environmental and as we have seen in the last few months, that sort of resistance is going to collapse in face of the requirement to create more jobs. People will accept shale gas in the US. We might want to take plants that were meant to be nuclear and use them for gas plants," he said. He also said that a country like T&T should not use the American financial regulatory system as a model. "I am not sure anybody should be looking to learn anything form the US in terms of regulation. I have said many times I think Canada is good example of sound financial regulation. I think the US has made very few strides since the financial crisis. Almost everything that went wrong in 2008 could go wrong again. There has been some streamlining of the agencies that oversee financial regulation," he said.
Velshi is urging small developing countries like T&T to look at emerging markets to diversify their economies rather than established economies. "You have got potentially growing countries like Brazil. It's your biggest close market. Obviously you can't ignore India or China and you are a port country so that helps. The one that is less obvious to people is Africa. Growth in Africa is fantastic. It has a massive population and exactly the type of place you want to diversify into," he said. He said having a strong, diversified economy was the only "buffer" countries could have to protect themselves in a world that was moving from one crisis to another.