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Trinidad and Tobago Country Report

Country Risk Level

Medium

Overview

Executive Summary

The full results of Trinidad and Tobago’s 10 August 2020 general election declared the People’s National Movement (PNM) party, led by President Keith Rowley, as the winner. The PNM retains control of the government, having secured a majority with 22 of 41 seats in parliament, compared with the opposition United National Congress (UNC)’s 19 seats. IHS Markit forecasts a 6.2% decline in economic growth in 2020. Trinidad and Tobago’s economy is over reliant on the energy sector, making it vulnerable to the decline in global commodity prices caused by weaker demand from the spread of COVID-19. Because the energy sector accounts for about one-third of the government’s revenue, the decline in global commodity prices will lead to rising fiscal deficit levels. Even given expectations of weaker import demand, sharply lower export demand will lead to a significant deterioration in Trinidad and Tobago’s current-account balance.Tourism accounts for around 12% of GDP and 17% of employment in Trinidad and Tobago. This sector has been hit hard by the pandemic and travel is still restricted. The effects of the pandemic on the economy, including severe restrictions to public spending, restructuring of public institutions, and business closures will add political and economic pressures on the government. The country will have to balance a significant loss of its revenue stream with being able to provide contingency funding to address the COVID-19-virus pandemic.Protests against police brutality spread across the country in June and July 2020. The protests were sparked by the killing of three men by police in Morvant on 27 June. Protests also took place in Moruga on 3 September after police shot and killed a man. As a result of the continued spread of COVID-19 in the country, police presence in communities is being increased to monitor compliance with regulations. This is likely to increase the risk of further protests.

Operational Outlook

The operational environment is undermined by low-level corruption, a cumbersome state bureaucracy, high levels of crime, and the poor state of transport infrastructure. Trade unions will continue to exert strong influence on labour relations and industrial action is likely to remain a frequent concern, with vulnerable sectors including education, oil, utilities, and telecoms. Protests and strikes risks are likely to rise once the ongoing COVID-19 crisis abates.

Terrorism

Terrorism risks will be elevated in Trinidad and Tobago in 2020. Large-scale terrorist attacks are unlikely but returning Islamic State combatants and domestic lone actors pose moderate risk in 2020. The opposition claims some 400 Trinidadians have likely travelled to the Middle East to join the Islamic State since 2013, however these figures are disputed by the government. Islamist group Jamaat Al Muslimeen (JAM) operates in the country and staged an attempted coup in 1990. However, the group no longer appears to have the capacity or the intent to carry out large-scale attacks.

Crime

Gang-related violence due in part to drug trafficking has increased, although it rarely affects foreign travellers. Over 200 gangs are believed to be active on the two islands. Petty crime is prevalent; however, tourists have occasionally been victims of more serious crimes including kidnapping, sexual assault, murder and armed robbery. However, in February 2020, a US citizen was shot dead in Petit Valley. In 2019, the US Department of Defense listed Trinidad and Tobago as one of the 35 countries at high risk for kidnappings, as incidents have steadily increased since 2015.

War Risks

War risks will remain moderate in 2020. with no outstanding maritime border disputes with neighbours Venezuela and Barbados. There remains the potential for small-scale at-sea confrontations between fishing vessels suspecting of operating in non-territorial waters. However, the risk of incidents in the oil and gas sector has declined as the bilateral relationship has improved following several energy-sector agreements between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago in recent years. The state's use of force is likely to remain limited to naval or military action against domestic criminal groups or international drug-smuggling operations.

Social Stability

High

There is a high risk of protests ahead of the August 2020 parliamentary elections. The implementation of austerity measures including public-sector job and fuel subsidy cuts, and tax rises on basic goods have increased the likelihood of large-scale disruptive protests over the next year involving roadblocks, burning tyres, and limited violence against security forces. Hostility towards the large number of Venezuelan immigrants entering the country is also likely to spur violent confrontations between migrants and anti-migrant protesters. Residents of garrison towns such as Laventille and Beetham Estate are likely to react to anti-crime operations by blocking the Beetham Highway.

Health Risk

Vaccines required to enter the country

Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease; it should be taken ten days in advance to be fully effective.

Vaccines recommended for all travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Vaccines recommended for most travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).

Vaccines recommended for some travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is generally recommended for travelers to densely forested regions.

Natural Risks

Hurricane season lasts from June until the end of November. While Trinidad is usually spared from direct hits from hurricanes, it does not escape the heavy rains that accompany them. Therefore, floods and landslides may occur during these months. A rare tropical storm hit Trinidad and Tobago in mid-June 2017, causing moderate damage and lingering flooding, particularly in southern Trinidad.

Landslides and widespread flooding provoked by torrential rain in late November/early December 2016 destroyed roads and bridges in the north of Trinidad in what was called the worst natural disaster to hit the islands in the past half-century.

Trinidad and Tobago is located in an active seismic zone, situated along the same fault line as Haiti.

Transportation

Roads throughout the islands are generally paved and highways are in good condition. However, many secondary roads are in poor state and some are narrow and winding, particularly in mountainous regions in the north of Trinidad, making for potentially hazardous conditions. Additionally, traffic accidents are common on the Port of Spain-San Fernando highway as well as on roads leading to Piarco International Airport.

Due to the high crime rates noted above, travelers are advised to drive with windows closed and doors locked.

Public modes of transportation available in the country include private taxis, route taxis (where multiple passengers are picked up along the same route), maxi-taxis (vans), and coach buses. It is advisable to only travel by private taxis; it is preferable to use taxis waiting in front of larger hotels instead of hailing them on the street. In all circumstances, be sure to negotiate the price with the driver before departing as taxis do not have meters. Furthermore, private taxis are unmarked but are identifiable by their license plate, which starts with the letter H; do not use unofficial taxis, whose plates will begin with the letter P.

Cars drive on the left-hand side of roads in this former British colony.

Gas stations are often closed at night.

Domestic air travel is safe.

Practical Information

Climate

Weather in Trinidad and Tobago is hot (30°C on average) and humid. The dry season lasts from January until May. During the rainy season (June to December), high temperatures coupled with high levels of humidity make for stifling conditions. The eastern and northern coasts receive more rain than the rest of the country. The island nation is generally spared from autumnal hurricanes.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +1 868
Police: 999
Ambulance: 990

Electricity

Voltage: 115V ~ 60 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal