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Country Reports

Trinidad and Tobago Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s People’s National Movement (PNM) has been in power since the 2015 election, when it obtained a five-seat majority with 23 MPs in the 41-seat parliament. PNM also holds a one-seat majority in the Senate, the country’s upper house. General elections are scheduled for September 2020. Our GDP growth forecasts for 2019 and 2020 have both been downgraded to 1.5% to account for lower global growth expectations, particularly for the United States, which is likely to lead to lower demand for Trinidad and Tobago’s energy exports and reduced tourism, especially since the cancellation of the Tobago Sandals resort expansion in January, which was expected to generate USD80 million in revenue annually. The country’s overreliance on the energy sector continues to restrict growth expectations. The non-energy fiscal deficit reached 11.7% of GDP in 2017, however the country’s risk of default is low given sufficient levels of foreign exchange reserves, last reported at nearly 8 months of import cover.Inflation was lower than expected in 2018, averaging just 1%, and is likely to remain low due to weak domestic demand and lower commodity prices. The current account enjoys a structural surplus and is forecast to achieve a healthy surplus in 2019 and 2020 of around 4.5% of GDP. Protests are likely to continue over the closure of the state-owned Petrotin refinery for financial reasons in November 2018. The head of the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU), Ancel Roget, also leads the country's Joint Trade Union Movement. Such protests are likely to result in road blockades near Republic Bank and other government buildings in the capital Port of Spain, and the blocking of access to oil-related work sites. The government introduced no new taxes that affect living standards in the 2019 budget, lowering the likelihood of cross-sector protests in response to broader austerity measures under the PNM government.
Last update: August 10, 2019

Operational Outlook

The operational environment is undermined by corruption, a cumbersome state bureaucracy, high levels of crime, and the poor state of transport infrastructure . Job cuts and wage reductions have increased the risk of industrial action, particularly in the hydrocarbon sector as prompted by lower oil prices, although this is mitigated by consultations between government, businesses, and labour unions, reducing the risk of large-scale disruptive strikes.

Last update: April 25, 2019

Terrorism

Elevated

Terrorism risks are elevated in Trinidad and Tobago. Islamist group Jamaat Al Muslimeen (JAM), which staged an attempted coup in 1990, no longer has the capacity or intent of performing large-scale attacks. However, as many as 400 Trinidad nationals are likely to have joined the Islamic State since 2013. There is a risk of nationals returning or of homegrown radicalisation following the territorial losses of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, elevating the likelihood of lone-actor attacks on tourist or civilian targets. The 2018 Anti-Terrorism Act faced peaceful opposition from within the country's Muslim community and main political opposition over concerns that it would promote police discrimination against this community.

Last update: August 14, 2019

Crime

The main risk to foreign visitors is petty crime. Gang-related violence is on the increase, although it rarely affects foreign travellers. Tourists have occasionally been victims of armed robbery attempts. The country’s murder rate was approximately 36 per 100,000 in 2018, the highest rate in eight years. Kidnapping incidents increased in 2017 but only one involved a foreign national. There were no reports of foreigners being kidnapped in 2018. Trinidad and Tobago is an important transit hub for European and to a lesser extent US-bound cocaine, and there is also an important domestic marijuana market. Revised anti-gang legislation was introduced in 2018.

Last update: August 15, 2019

War Risks

War risks are low. Maritime border disputes with Venezuela and Barbados were officially resolved in 1990 and 2006, respectively. Nevertheless, there have been occasional flare-ups with Venezuela. In 2012, Venezuelan navy personnel boarded a Petrotrin oil rig that was suspected of operating in Trinidadian waters and in 2011 the Venezuelan navy fired on Trinidadian fishing boats suspected of fishing in Venezuelan waters. The risk of further incidents has declined as the bilateral relationship has improved following several energy-sector agreements in recent years. The state's use of force is likely to be limited to naval or military action against domestic criminal groups or international drug-smuggling operations.

Last update: August 3, 2019

Social Stability

High

Protests tend to be peaceful and limited to road blockades. However, the implementation of austerity measures including public-sector job and fuel subsidy cuts, and tax rises on basic goods have increased the likelihood of large-scale disruptive protests over the next year involving roadblocks, burning tyres, and violence against security forces. Residents of garrison towns such as Laventille and Beetham Estate are likely to react to anti-crime operations by blocking the Beetham Highway, connecting Port-of-Spain with highways to the southern and eastern regions. Sectors vulnerable to disruption from industrial action are education, oil, maritime, and telecommunications.

Last update: August 15, 2019

Health Risk

Very high

Vaccines required to enter the country

Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease; it should be taken ten days in advance to be fully effective.

Vaccines recommended for all travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Vaccines recommended for most travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).

Vaccines recommended for some travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is generally recommended for travelers to densely forested regions.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Severe

Hurricane season lasts from June until the end of November. While Trinidad is usually spared from direct hits from hurricanes, it does not escape the heavy rains that accompany them. Therefore, floods and landslides may occur during these months. A rare tropical storm hit Trinidad and Tobago in mid-June 2017, causing moderate damage and lingering flooding, particularly in southern Trinidad.

Landslides and widespread flooding provoked by torrential rain in late November/early December 2016 destroyed roads and bridges in the north of Trinidad in what was called the worst natural disaster to hit the islands in the past half-century.

Trinidad and Tobago is located in an active seismic zone, situated along the same fault line as Haiti.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Moderate

Roads throughout the islands are generally paved and highways are in good condition. However, many secondary roads are in poor state and some are narrow and winding, particularly in mountainous regions in the north of Trinidad, making for potentially hazardous conditions. Additionally, traffic accidents are common on the Port of Spain-San Fernando highway as well as on roads leading to Piarco International Airport.

Due to the high crime rates noted above, travelers are advised to drive with windows closed and doors locked.

Public modes of transportation available in the country include private taxis, route taxis (where multiple passengers are picked up along the same route), maxi-taxis (vans), and coach buses. It is advisable to only travel by private taxis; it is preferable to use taxis waiting in front of larger hotels instead of hailing them on the street. In all circumstances, be sure to negotiate the price with the driver before departing as taxis do not have meters. Furthermore, private taxis are unmarked but are identifiable by their license plate, which starts with the letter H; do not use unofficial taxis, whose plates will begin with the letter P.

Cars drive on the left-hand side of roads in this former British colony.

Gas stations are often closed at night.

Domestic air travel is safe.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Weather in Trinidad and Tobago is hot (30°C on average) and humid. The dry season lasts from January until May. During the rainy season (June to December), high temperatures coupled with high levels of humidity make for stifling conditions. The eastern and northern coasts receive more rain than the rest of the country. The island nation is generally spared from autumnal hurricanes.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +1 868
Police: 999
Ambulance: 990

Electricity

Voltage: 115V ~ 60 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019