Kelvin Mahabir, President of invesTT, makes a point during a panel discussion which followed the launch of the World Investment Report 2012 on July 5 at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business in Mt. Hope. Trinidad and Tobago recorded a 5% increase in FDI flows to the country in 2011.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) to Trinidad and Tobago totalled $574 million in 2011, a 5% increase over 2010 figures of $549 million.
The figures are contained in the latest World Investment Report (WIR) by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) which was launched on July 5 at a press conference and panel discussion hosted by newly-formed investment promotion agency invesTT, at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business in Mt. Hope.
The uptick here at home contrasts with overall FDI flows to small island developing states (SIDS) which sank to a record low in six years of $4.1 billion.
According to UNCTAD's report FDI flows to SIDS "remained highly skewed towards tax friendly jurisdictions, with three economies (the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados) receiving the bulk." Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas, the only country in the group to record FDI inflows in excess of $1 billion, together accounted for 51% of total inflows last year.
The report further attributed the decline in investments in SIDS to "the absence of megadeals in mining, quarrying and petroleum" which led to a significant drop in cross-border mergers and acquisitions in 2011.
President of invesTT, Kelvin Mahabir, praised UNCTAD's decision to select this country to launch this year's WIR subtitled "Towards a New Generation of Investment Policies," saying it coincided with government's push to reset investment policy.
"The focus created by this report could not have come at a better time as it reinforces our own thrust in using investment in a structured policy framework to sustainably grow and diversify the economy," Mahabir said.
Mahabir called the report "timely" and said the Ministry of Trade and Industry was currently exploring new initiatives to drive FDI. He said invesTT would take an active role in servicing both foreign investors and local business operators who were looking to expand.
While acknowledging the impact of the world's major economies on global FDI flows, Mahabir said he was encouraged by the 16% increase within Latin America and the Caribbean in 2011 and the favourable outlook for 2012. This group realised $217 billion in FDI with the highest flows going to South America.
Overall, global FDI totalled $1.5 trillion, with developing and transition economies accounting for more than half of all investments, according to Jason Lindsay, invesTT's Vice President of Development Planning and Management, who gave an overview of UNCTAD's report.
The panel discussion which followed was chaired by invesTT Chairman Brian Frontin and included Mahabir as well as Chairman of the Economic Development Board, Dr. Thackwray Driver, Trade Development Specialist at the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers' Association, Ramesh Ramdeen, and Arthur Lok Jack faculty member Howard Dottin.