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Indians can chase Mittal dream in Trinidad

Hindustan Times

Indians can chase Mittal dream in Trinidad

Shekhar Iyer

Port of Spain (Trinidad), November 10, 2006

Indian entrepreneurs will soon be able to follow the story of millionaire Lakshmi Mittal who hit success by buying an ailing steel firm in Trinidad 17 years ago.

They can establish value addition plants in the Trinidad and Tobago and avail themselves of the preferential trade benefits available in the entire American continent.

Further groundwork was laid towards the signing of a bilateral investment treaty between Trinidad and Tobago and India during discussions Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat had with President George Maxwell Richards and Prime Minister Patrick Manning at the start of a two-day visit.

TT (as Trinidad and Tobago is known) wants Indian entrepreneurs to straightaway set up fully owned plants in areas like health, information technology, film making, food and beverage, printing and packaging, and other sectors.

India is TT’s fourth largest nation in terms of foreign direct investment and TT benefits annually to the tune of US$28 million annually.

Speaking at a banquet hosted by President Richards, Shekhawat said, “we are pleased to see that the Indian companies have started investing here. The 1.2 billion dollar steel plant being set up by Essar Group, is one of the biggest Indian investment in the region.”

Shekhawat noted that negotiations for the bilateral investment, promotion and protection agreement had been concluded. The agreement is expected to be signed when TT’s Far East mission visits India as part of its tour to the region between February 26 to March 9 next year. That mission will also visit China, South Korea and Malaysia.

Mittal Steel Point Lisas is the largest steelmaker in the Caribbean and the largest non-oil industrial complex in Trinidad and Tobago. It benefits from reasonably priced, locally available natural gas and has a modern, captive marine terminal that handles cargo on a 24-hour basis. More than 90 per cent of its output is exported - to the Caribbean, Central and South America, Canada, the USA and the Far East.

Recently, the Indo-Trinidad financial ties got a further boost with the setting up of an equity fund - Savinvest India Asia Fund - by an NRI in the Caribbean nation.

First colonised by the Spanish, the Trinidad and Tobago islands came under British control in the early 19th century. The islands’ sugar industry was hurt when slavery was abolished in 1834.

Manpower was replaced with the importation of contract labourers from India between 1845 and 1917, which boosted sugar production as well as the cocoa industry. The discovery of oil on Trinidad in 1910 added another important export. TT attained independence in 1962.

 source: Hindustan Times