Persad-Bissessar, who is on a 10-day official visit to the country beginning Thursday, is accompanied by several ministers and two prominent sporting Ambassadors, cricketers Brian Lara and Darren Ganga.
During the visit, Trinidad & Tobago is expected to sign MoUs with India. These MoUs are for cooperation and exchange in the field of culture, technical education, traditional medicine, for establishing an Ayurveda chair in the University of West Indies, and for a bilateral air service. This is the first state visit by a woman head of government of Indian origin. Apart from her stay in Delhi, Persad-Bissessar is expected to visit Jaipur for the Pravasi
Bharati Divas and will be conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award, the External Affairs Ministry said in New Delhi on Thursday. She will also be visiting her ancestral village in Buxar, Bihar besides Kolkata and Mumbai.
Trinidad & Tobago, which is part of Carribean Community had supported India for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council and has also pledged support for India's effort to get a permanent seat. "Our relations with Trinidad and Tobago are evolving in the context of the focus on strengthening India's relations with Latin America and Caribbean region. In 2010 India's trade with the region was US$ 23 billion and cumulative investments estimated to be US$ 15 billion," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
The Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday. She is also scheduled to call on President Pratibha Patil and Vice President Hamid Ansari. External Affairs Minister S M Krishna will call on her.
People of Indian origin constitute 42 per cent of the population of Trinidad & Tobago. Historic and cultural ties between the two countries have been strengthened with time.
Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Cooperation was opened in Port of Spain in 1996. ICCR has also set up long-term Chairs on contemporary Indian studies and on Hindi. Indian cultural troupes regularly visit the country.
Trinidad & Tobago has since January 2011 relaxed visa requirements for Indian nationals for tourism and business purposes if the period of stay does not exceed 90 days.
Indian exports to the country had grown exponentially from US $ 8.8 million in 2001 to approximately US $ 422 million in 2008-09. "However, during the last two years, bilateral trade has declined on account of shortfall of LNG exports of T&T to India and also due to global economic recession to around US$ 140 million in 2010-11," Akbaruddin said.
Indian exports include drugs and pharmaceuticals, iron and steel, petroleum products, IT services and auto components, and gems and jewellery.
Trinidad and Tobago is rich in oil and gas resources and has the largest and most vibrant economy in the Caribbean. Indian companies like Arcelor Mittal, Essar, Indraprastha Gas Limited among others, have evinced interest in investing in gas and petrochemical sector.