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Caribbean Islands Table of Contents

Caribbean Islands


Trinidad and Tobago possessed an industrial base that was unmatched in the Caribbean in the late 1980s and, for a country of about 1.2 million people, perhaps in the world. As new heavy industries came on-stream in the early 1980s, Trinidad and Tobago was a producer of oil, asphalt, natural gas, ammonia and urea fertilizers, methanol, iron, and steel. Petrochemicals based on natural gas became the center of the industrial strategy envisioned in the 1970s to diversify away from oil and export agriculture. In 1985 the petroleum sector accounted for 24 percent of GDP and nearly 70 percent of export earnings, and it affected most major sectors of the economy. The country also contained a large construction sector. Large industrial projects, asphalt roads, and government housing projects were responsible for the sector's prominence for decades, frequently making it a barometer of the economy's general health. The manufacturing sector was relatively small compared with the rest of the economy. Manufacturing, historically linked to agricultural processing, was very modern by the 1980s and comprised the assembly of automobiles, televisions, and refrigerators and the production of steel. Light manufacturing was less significant, as Trinidad and Tobago tended to import many smaller consumer items.

Data as of November 1987