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Why Trinidad & Tobago IFC

The Trinidad and Tobago IFC is an onshore financial centre located in Trinidad and Tobago, which is recognised as the de facto financial centre of the English-speaking Caribbean. Trinidad and Tobago is strategically positioned to act as a gateway to Latin America for financial institutions from North America, Europe and Asia.

To attract financial institutions, the Trinidad and Tobago IFC has focused on the five key areas of competitiveness measured by the Global Financial Centres Index published by the Z/Yen Group, a commercial think-tank in London. These areas of competitiveness represent the factors that international financial institutions consider when deciding where to establish operations. The aim of the Trinidad and Tobago IFC is to attract these institutions to invest in Trinidad and Tobago, by creating a business environment that caters to their needs.

The following are the key areas of competitiveness for an international financial centre:

 

Business Environment

International financial firms seeking new locations to establish operations, look for countries that demonstrate and instil the attributes of confidence, trust and respect. Trinidad and Tobago's stable English-speaking democracy and resilient economy create a secure and efficient business environment which, with support from the government and other stakeholders, will be enhanced by IFC-specific legislation.

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This business environment will be buttressed by:

  • A modern, responsive, transparent, principle-based regulatory framework. Some of the areas covered by the regulatory framework will be:
    • Security By-Law and Regulations
    • Collective Investment By-Law
    • Investment Trust By-Law
    • Regulatory By-Law
    • Arbitration By-Law
    • Insolvency By-Law and Regulations
  • An independent common law legal framework
  • An independent Dispute Resolution Centre
  • A transparent tax regime in line with OECD requirements
  • Lawyers, auditors, accountants and consultants providing support services

Key Features:

  • Located in the same time zone with North America
  • Ranked 88th out of 189 countries and 11th out of 32 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean according to the 2016 Ease of Doing Business Index [1]
  • Received 7 out of 12 in the strength of legal rights index according to the 2016 Doing Business report.[2]
  • Ranked 89th out of 140 countries and 12th out of 21 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean respectively according to the 2015-2016 Global Competitiveness Index [3]
  • In December 2014, Standard & Poor’s affirmed Trinidad and Tobago’s ‘A’ credit rating[4]
  • GDP of approximately USD 28 billion and GDP per capita of approximately USD 20,000[5]

 

Financial Sector Development

The local financial sector has been robust despite the ongoing global challenges and has contributed to the diversification of Trinidad and Tobago. The financial system in Trinidad and Tobago is home to some of the largest commercial banks and financial institutions indigenous to the Caribbean as well as international firms such as the Royal Bank of Canada and Scotiabank. Trinidad and Tobago’s track record proves that it is capable of supporting the activities of international financial firms

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Key Features:

  • As at June 30th, 2014 commercial banks operating in Trinidad and Tobago had a combined asset base of approximately USD 21 billion [6] 
  • Trinidad & Tobago has an active capital market, this is exemplified by the fact that during the last four years an estimated USD 8 billion of debt was issued with over USD 12 billion of total debt outstanding[7]
  • As at September 30th, 2014 mutual funds had approximately USD6.5Bn in assets under management[8]
  • As at December 31st 2014, the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange had a market capitalization of approximately USD 17 billion [9]
  • As at 2014, the financial sector accounted for approximately 11% of GDP[10]

The financial sector has been identified by the government as a source for growth in GDP and economic diversification. This is why attractive incentives are being offered to provide ongoing support for investors.

 

Infrastructure

As one of the most connected countries in the Caribbean, major airlines offer regularly scheduled flights from Trinidad and Tobago to cities such as New York, Toronto, Miami, London and Panama. Trinidad and Tobago offers a reliable and low-cost electricity supply, affordable modern office space and broadband that is competitively priced when compared to prices in the Americas. Also available, is one of the most robust ICT infrastructures in the region with a higher capacity of international submarine cable systems than other islands in the Caribbean. Trinidad and Tobago experienced the highest growth among Caribbean countries in fixed (wired) broadband penetration in the period 2010-2013 due to the affordability of broadband plans.[11]

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Key Features:

  • Electricity available at USD 0.05 per KwH, which is among the cheapest in the world[12]
  • ‘A’ class office space is available in Port of Spain for monthly rental rates ranging between USD 2.30 and USD 3.90 per square foot[13]
  • Ranked 8th out of 23 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean according to the 2015 Network Readiness Index[14]
  • Ranked 51st out of 144 countries in the infrastructure pillar, beating the average score for Latin America and the Caribbean according to the 2015-2016 Global Competitiveness Index[15]
  • Transport fuel costs of USD 0.27, USD 0.49 and USD 0.89 compares favourably to the global average of USD 1.02[16]

 

International Connectivity

Panama

 3.0 hours
Miami  3.8 hours
New York   4.8 hours
Newark   5.0 hours
Houston    5.0 hours
Toronto     5.5 hours
London      8.7 hours

   
infrastructure  

Human Capital

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has invested significantly in education since 2004 to provide financial assistance to persons pursuing tertiary level studies. This strategic move has resulted in persons obtaining undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications from The University of the West Indies and the University of Trinidad and Tobago, our local universities, and from international institutions such as the University of London, the Edinburgh Business School, the Henley Business School and the Australian Institute of Business. Continuous development courses are available from institutions such as the New York institute of Finance, with ongoing discussions with the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment (CISI) to offer courses in the near future.

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Key Features:

  • As at 2014, student participation rate in tertiary education recorded at 57% up from 42% in 2010[17]
  • Approximately 70,000 students[18] enrolled in over 60 post-secondary and tertiary education institutions[19]
  • Approximately 4,000 students graduate annually from The University of the West Indies, the largest tertiary education institute in the country.
  • Approximately 6,000 persons pursuing various levels of the ACCA programme[20]
  • Workforce of approximately 660,100 persons as at 2014[21]
  • Overall literacy rate of 98.8%[22]
  • Average annual salary of USD 14K – USD 18K for banking, financial services and insurance[23]

With an estimated 10% of the workforce employed in the financial services sector, Trinidad and Tobago is in a position to meet the needs of firms that will operate in the Trinidad and Tobago IFC, providing a well-educated, English-speaking workforce that is competitively compensated when compared to workers in North and Latin America.

 

Reputational and General Factors

To be successful as an IFC, a country must attract international firms and provide a comfortable living environment for expatriate workers. Due to its oil and gas industry, expatriates have been able to easily assimilate to life in Trinidad and Tobago. The rich culture, cuisine and festivals have been influenced by the diverse and unique history of Trinidad and Tobago and offer a much appreciated alternative to life in major metropolitan cities around the world. As one of the most modern countries in the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago offers an appealing lifestyle while still being able to conduct business.

 


 [1] World Bank, Doing Business 2016

[2] World Bank, Doing Business 2016

[3] The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016

[4] http://www.central-bank.org.tt/

[5]International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook, October 2015

[6] Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago Summary Economic Indicators, September 2014

[7]Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission

[8]Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago Summary Economic Indicators, September 2014

[9]Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange, December 2014

[10]Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, 2014 Annual Economic Survey

[11] International Telecommunication Union: Measuring the Information Society Report, 2014

[12]Oliver Wyman Analysis

[13]Massy Realty – July 2015

[14] World Economic Forum, The Global Information Technology Report, 2014-15

[15] World Economic Forum, Global Competitiveness Report, 2014-15

[16] http://www.globalpetrolprices.com/gasoline_prices/

[17]Ministry of Tertiary Education and Skills Training – Key Achievements, May 2013 – May 2014

[18]Oliver Wyman Analysis

[19]Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago

[20]Oliver Wyman Analysis

[21] Central Statistical Office of Trinidad and Tobago

[22]UNDP Human Development Report 2015

[23]Oliver Wyman Analysis

 

avasant

"As financial services firms look for alternative destinations for shared services, there is a dearth of near-shore locations that provide the right combination of regulatory support, qualified talent and costs. Trinidad and Tobago is emerging as a strong contender due to its thriving financial services sector, favourable business environment and availability of suitable skills sets."


- Anupam Govil, Partner, Avasant & President, Avasense

anya schnoor ... We wanted to be able to do cross-border transactions and the Government really put their foot forward with us to make this happen ... this is a great opportunity for us as Trinidadians to show the rest of the Caribbean and the world that we can do this efficiently.

Anya Schnoor, Managing Director, Scotiabank Trinidad and Tobago Ltd.