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Trinidad & Tobago - Foreign Relations

Since achieving self-governing status in 1956, Trinidad and Tobago has followed a nationalistic and independent course in its foreign policy, and it has taken an active role in international and regional organizations. As a small island developing state, with all the attendant characteristics of small population, limited resources, economic openness and vulnerability to the volatility of international developments and to natural disasters, strategically located and blessed with rich energy resources, Trinidad and Tobago's foreign policy is founded on the tenets of:

  • respect for the sovereignty and sovereign equality of all states;
  • non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, qualified by acceptance of the responsibility of the international community to take collective action in cases of gross domestic violations of human rights or genocide;
  • respect and adherence to international law and to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

Trinidad and Tobago demonstrated its independence from United States foreign policy initiatives in the GAS. In 1972 Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, and Guyana defied the United States and the GAS and established diplomatic relations with Cuba. After the GAS lifted sanctions against Cuba in 1975, Williams visited Cuba and also visited the Soviet Union, Hungary, Romania, and China. He was not, however, impressed with Cuba and, in the 1976 campaign, used examples from Cuba to demonstrate the superiority of capitalism. Trinidad and Tobago had been ambivalent about closer ties with Cuba, maintaining correct diplomatic relations but not encouraging Cuban initiatives.

Although Trinidad and Tobago denounced the 1983 coup against Grenadian leader Maurice Bishop and imposed sanctions against the Revolutionary Military Council, it opposed the subsequent United States-Caribbean intervention in that country.

Although nationalistic and independent, Trinidad and Tobago maintained a strong attachment to Britain. In April 1982, Trinidad and Tobago joined Chile, Colombia, and the United States in abstaining from voting on an OAS resolution recognizing Argentine sovereignty over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands. The following month it joined the same three countries in abstaining from a resolution that condemned the British military operation and called on the United States to halt its aid to Britain.

Policy in Trinidad and Tobago has favored Caribbean economic cooperation as long as that cooperation did not threaten the nation's standard ofliving. After Jamaica's withdrawal from the West Indies Federation in 1961, Trinidad and Tobago followed suit the following year because it did not want to be responsible for eight small, much poorer islands. Half of all Trinidadians interviewed in a 1976 poll agreed with the statement that "Trinidad and Tobago should go its own way and not worry about the Caribbean."

As the most industrialized and second-largest country in the English-speaking Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago has taken a leading role in the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), and strongly supports CARICOM economic integration efforts and has advocated for a greater measure of political security and integration. CARICOM members are working to establish a Single Market and Economy (CSME). In early 2006, Trinidad and Tobago, in conjunction with the larger CARICOM nations, inaugurated the CARICOM Single Market, a precursor to the full CSME. As a first step toward greater security integration, Trinidad and Tobago and the other members of CARICOM collaborated with the U.S. on an Advance Passenger Information System in preparation for the 2007 Cricket World Cup tournament, which took place in nine Caribbean venues in March and April 2007.

Trinidad and Tobago is active in the Summit of the Americas (SOA) process of the Organization of American States (OAS) and hosted the fifth Summit of the Americas in April 2009, attended by President Barack Obama. It has hosted hemisphere-wide ministerial meetings on energy, education, and labor, as well as an OAS meeting on terrorism and security, and plans to host a conference for female leaders in the region in 2011. It also hosted a negotiating session in 2003 for the OAS Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and campaigned to host an eventual FTAA secretariat. Trinidad also played host to the November 2009 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Trinidad and Tobago is a democracy that maintains close relations with its Caribbean neighbors and major North American and European trading partners. After its 1962 independence, Trinidad and Tobago joined the UN and the Commonwealth. In 1967, it became the first Commonwealth country to join the OAS. In 1995, Trinidad played host to the inaugural meeting of the Association of Caribbean States and has become the headquarters location for this 25-member grouping, which seeks to further economic progress and cooperation among its members. Relations with Latin American nations, including Venezuela, are generally cordial, despite the governments distaste for the Venezuelan PetroCaribe initiative.

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Page last modified: 23-05-2017 15:48:44 ZULU