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Russia and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago: 45th Anniversary of Bilateral Relations

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the President of Trinidad and Tobago, Paula Mae-Weeks, who was in Moscow on a private visit, on August 13 discussed the development of dialogue between the two countries. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and this Caribbean state. In what areas is Russian cooperation developing with the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago? What tasks do governments set for bilateral cooperation?

In the framework of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Trinidad and Tobago, we turn to a brief information about the Latin American country. A small island state with a population of about 1.3 million people is located in the southern Caribbean, off the coast of Venezuela. It consists of two large islands – Trinidad and Tobago, as well as five small islands. The country is located north of Venezuela and slightly south of Grenada.

The Arawak and Caribbean Indians originally inhabited the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. After the discovery of Trinidad by Christopher Columbus in 1498 and until the end of the XVIII century, the island was a Spanish colony, and then passed into the possession of Great Britain. Alternately, the Tobago was owned by the Dutch, French, British and Courland, and since 1762 it became the possession of Great Britain. In 1888, both islands were united administratively. On August 31, 1962, Trinidad and Tobago gained independence within the framework of the British Commonwealth, and then on August 1, 1976 they proclaimed the Republic.

The basis of the economic policy of the Latin American country is the extraction and processing of oil and gas, which account for about 40% of GDP and 80% of total exports. The Republic is the largest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the region. An oil refinery is located in Trinidad and Tobago, for which raw materials are partially purchased abroad. Now, four lines of the LNG plant have already been built with a total capacity of 15.7 million tons per year.

Given the low cost of energy, chemical enterprises were established to produce methanol, fertilizers, ammonia, there are enterprises for the production of metal and cement (up to 1 million tons per year). In the Caribbean state, food, light industry, publishing, etc. are developing. In recent years, the network of financial and telecommunication services has expanded rapidly.

The agricultural sector, which accounts for 4% of the country’s GDP, is represented by the cultivation of sugar cane, cocoa, coffee, rice, citrus fruits, and coconut. In addition, livestock and fishing are highly developed. However, due to rising prices for land in recent years, agricultural production has been declining. Actively developing cooperation with neighboring countries on the establishment of joint ventures for the production and processing of meat and dairy products.

In recent years, foreign tourism, which makes up 46% of the island’s GDP and provides about 57% of the population’s employment, has been important, especially for the economy of Tobago. In addition, revenues from the tourism sector account for 96% of the island’s budget.

The United States remains the leading trading partner of this island nation. The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has significant export shipments to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Central America. Import to Trinidad and Tobago comes mainly from Brazil, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Venezuela, as well as from African oil-producing countries.

Turning to the foreign policy of the Caribbean state, it is worth mentioning that the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is a member of the UN, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the Organization of American States (OAS), the Caribbean Community, the Association of Caribbean States (in the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain, is the headquarter of the Organization), in addition, takes part in the Non-Aligned Movement, the Forum of Gas Exporting Countries.

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago does not currently face the threat of population decline: according to the report of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) “On Human Development 2009”, by 2020 the state’s population will increase to 1.4 million. (taking into account the natural population growth in 2005-2010 by 0.7% per year). It is worth paying attention to the fact that the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is located in a zone of increased danger of natural disasters – tropical hurricanes, which cause human casualties and cause serious economic damage.

Diplomatic relations with the USSR were established on June 6, 1974. In August 1992, the government of Trinidad and Tobago recognized Russia as the successor of the USSR.

In 2004, a protocol on political consultations was signed between Russia and Trinidad and Tobago, for the first time consultative negotiations were held in Port of Spain in February 2005. Also in 2005, a cooperation agreement was signed between the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation and the Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago.

Russian-Trinidad trade turnover in 2018 amounted to about 856 million US dollars. The main areas of cooperation between the two countries are the oil and gas industry and the chemical industry.

On August 13, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Paula Mae-Weekes, who was in Moscow on a private visit. The parties discussed the development of dialogue between the two countries, and noted the importance of continuing the strong relations that were established 45 years ago. An exchange of views was held on the state and prospects of bilateral cooperation, issues on the international agenda, and cooperation through regional integration structures.

On August 27, Sergey Lavrov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the CARICOM of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Dennis Moses, exchanged congratulatory telegrams on the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry noted mutual commitment to the principles and norms of international law and multilateral diplomacy, expressed interest in enhancing the political dialogue and strengthening the legal framework for relations in order to build up practical cooperation. In turn, Dennis Moses praised the prospects for the development of Russian-Trinidad ties based on mutual respect and constructive cooperation. Strengthening relations between Russia and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago once again demonstrate Moscow’s interest in developing cooperation with the Caribbean, as well as in expanding Russia’s geopolitical presence in the Latin American region.

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