Between 2014 and 2017, T&T’s average exports and imports with the African continent were $1.4 billion and $7.5 billion respectively, resulting in a trade deficit of $6.1 billion. The top export markets in 2017 were Morocco, Senegal, Liberia, Ghana and South Africa, while the top import partners were Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, South Africa and Morocco.
The figures were revealed by Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon when she spoke at the Emancipation Support Committee’s 18th Annual Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Symposium at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain on Tuesday. She said for January to May 2017, the largest export product to Africa was ammonia, while the largest import was crude petroleum.
“Therefore energy and downstream energy products form the economic backbone of Trinidad and Tobago-Africa relations. One of the more significant bilateral advances in recent times is the strengthening of mutually beneficial economic relationships between Trinidad and Tobago and a number of African countries, and the formal establishment of relations with the AU thereby giving Trinidad and Tobago observer status to the African Union,” Gopee-Scoon said.
She said the impetus for such strengthened engagement occurred when former Prime Minister Patrick Manning became the first Caricom political leader to address a Summit of the African Union in January 2007.
“That commitment to strengthening diaspora ties was evident many years earlier when in 2004, the first African Union/African Diaspora Technical Workshop was held in this country. The Emancipation Support Committee also played a key role in bringing that workshop to fruition,” the minister said.