Trinidad and Tobago's government is tailoring its incentive package for potential U.S. investors in its new free trade zone in Port Point Lisas, offering such amenities as fixed energy prices for new industrial plants.
Bhoendradatt Tewarie, the islands' minister of industry, said in an interview here that he hopes such incentives will attract some $65 million worth of new investment this year, following a record $650 million in foreign investment in 1989.As a result of last year's investment - primarily funneled into the telecommunications sector by London's Cable & Wireless PLC - a digital satellite teleport is being installed in Trinidad's Port Point Lisas free trade zone. That development should help the zone attract data processing services, Mr. Tewarie said.
The Point Lisas zone, adjacent to a state-operated industrial park, is being marketed primarily to industrial investors and high-technology companies, the minister said.
Among the incentives that the country is typically offering to prospective investors is a fixed price for energy supplies, Mr. Tewarie said.
A natural gas recovery plant, being built through a joint venture with Conoco Inc. of Wilmington, Del., is expected to begin operations within the next year to help supply such needs, he noted.
Within a month of the zone's opening in March, Rosin Optical Industries Corp. of Miami signed an agreement to establish an eyeglass lens-grinding facility at Point Lisas. Rosin's investment is based partially on a three-year supply contract for U.S. customers, according to Mr. Tewarie.
To attract more labor-intensive projects, another free trade zone is being developed at Piarco International Airport, according to Maurice Moniquette, general manager of the country's Industrial Development Corp. Textile assembly operations will be a key target of the zone, he said.
Unlike the state-run Point Lisas zone, the Piarco zone could be operated by a mixed state-private venture, according to Gerald Thompson, first secretary of Trinidad and Tobago's Embassy in Washington.
New investment in general should be facilitated by a liberal foreign investment law that passed the country's Senate unanimously in early June. That measure is expected to pass the House on July 13, Mr. Tewarie said.
While the new law is expected to ease foreign investment rules, it may not go far enough to attract major U.S. manufacturers in some sectors.
A source who attended Mr. Tewarie's presentation to investors here on Wednesday said representatives from two U.S. pharmaceutical companies complained that Trinidad and Tobago's patent protection law is insufficient to attract investment by their industry.