Trinidad and Tobago and Chile sign multiple agreements and memoranda focusing on economic and energy issues in Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley’s state visit to Santiago in May of this year.
As shown by BP's reviews released this month, Trinidad and Tobago clasified at numer 7 out of the top 10 LNG exporters in 2016 with up to 1,400 million cubic feet (mcf) per day of gas, out of which 22% transfered to Chile.
Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, emphasised T&T’s importance as a partner in energy, since the twin-island nation supplies 92 percent of the South American country’s LNG, saying further “We want to move forward towards a trade agreement through the establishment of a working group.”
During discussions and their visit to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the president and the prime minister shared their views on democratic institutions, law, social progress and economic development, as well as pledging more bilateral cooperation in the fields of culture, energy, technical cooperation and trade. In 2016 alone, the two countries conducted $640 million in bilateral trade, with Chile exporting mainly wood and paper products and foodstuffs.
At ECLAC, Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena highlighted climate change, economic financing and high public debt as the three main threats facing Caribbean nations, pointing out to the two political leaders ECLAC’s proposal to forgive some debt in exchange for creating a “resilience fund” to finance adapting to both climate change and the current economic environment.
Prime Minister Rowley recognised the importance of not just these efforts, but also the vital role independent statistic outlets - such as the National Statistical Office of Trinidad and Tobago - have in providing reliable data for policymakers.
Rowley continued, saying “For that reason, the advice and counsel that ECLAC can give us to diversify our economy will be vital for deciding what course of action we must take,” after recognising the “perfect storm” Trinidad is in since the fall in both international prices and domestic production of oil and gas.
Agreement was reached via a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on intellectual property and how it relates to development in cultural, economic and social spheres. The MoU will deepen bi-national cooperation in intellectual property (IP) rights, from administration and creation to utilisation, promotion and ultimately protection.
In accordance with this IP MoU, the prime minister’s office released a statement saying, “The leaders are considering undertaking a study on the benefits of the insertion of Trinidad and Tobago together with Chile into the global value chain, so that Trinidad and Tobago might be able to reap the benefits offered by Chile through its extensive network of free trade agreements.”
The president and the prime minister also agreed to look into the possibility of a learning exchange programme between the University of Chile and the University of Trinidad and Tobago in order to facilitate foreign language development in their respective countries, a crucial issue for Trinidad & Tobago as it looks to promote more economic integration with largely Spanish-speaking South America in the future.
Cabinet members of the Trinbagonian delegation in this visit included Foreign Minister Dennis Moses, Energy Minister Franklin Khan, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young.