Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 27th 2014 Contents The current trade between T&T
and Russia is still small but it
is growing, says Nikolay
Smirnov, Russian Ambassador
to T&T. Smirnov has a slew
of plans that will see relations
grow between both countries in the area of
trade, aviation and tourism.
"Concerning bilateral relations between
Russia and T&T, people may know that diplo-
matic relations between the two countries
were established on June 6, 1974. Taking into
account the vast distance between two coun-
tries there is not much of bilateral trade. For
the first half year of the current year, export
from Russia to T&T equalled US$154,000.
T&T mainly exports bituminous materials,
mineral wax, ferrous metal. Russia imports
cacao beans, alcoholic and non-alcoholic bev-
erages, vinegar, some pharmaceutical and med-
ical products which in total came to
US$82,000," he told the Business Guardian
via an e-mailed statement last Friday.
Smirnov was also a guest speaker at a public
lecture at the Institute of International Relations
at the University of the West Indies (UWI)
two Fridays ago.
He is a non-resident ambassador to T&T,
Barbados, Grenada and St Vincent and the
Grenadines and began his career as a diplomat
in the then Soviet Union during the 1970s.
The Russian Embassy for the southern
Caribbean is based in Guyana.
Today, Russia is part of the "BRICS" group
of emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India,
China and South Africa, some of the world s
largest and fastest growing economies.
Geo-politically, Russia is also reasserting
itself for the first time since the collapse of
the Soviet Union in 1991.
Within this context, Russia is seeking new
trade and allies in the Latin American and
Caribbean region and Russian President
Vladimir Putin was part of the 6th BRICS
Summit in Brazil in July.
Although shunned by Western leaders who
have imposed sanctions on the Russian econ-
omy over the problems in Ukraine, Putin was
warmly welcomed by BRICS and regional lead-
ers.To facilitate economic and commercial ties
between Russia and T&T, Smirnov said Russia
has an Honorary Consul of Russia in T&T,
who is David Dulal-Whiteway, the managing
director of Republic Bank.
"Soon we will finalise the process of
appointing an Honorary Consul of T&T to
Russia. Both of them will hopefully promote
economic co-operation and cultural ties
between T&T and the Russian Federation.
There are Russian professors working in UWI."
T&T and BRICS
Smirnov noted that T&T is diversifying its
trading patterns away form traditional North
American and European ties to the BRICS
He pointed out that the vibrant BRICS
economies have already laid the foundation
for a new development bank, which some
argue will one day rival the US dominated
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World
"T&T is developing its relations with China
and other countries of BRICS. At the last
BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, the group
of emerging economies signed the long-antic-
ipated document to create the US$100 billion
BRICS Development Bank and a reserve cur-
rency pool worth over another US$100 bil-
He wants to see closer co-operation among
T&T and the Caricom region and Russia and
the BRICS countries.
"In the upcoming 2015, Russia will be host
of the next BRICS summit. We hope we will
continue to cooperate with T&T and other
Information on the Ministry of Energy s
Web site (consolidated monthly bulletins of
June 2014) indicates that Russia supplied
Petrotrin with 2,163,514 barrels of crude oil
between January and September, 2014, rep-
resenting about 14.07 per cent of total imports
for the nine-month period, which amounted
to 15,372,415 barrels.
The data also reveal that Russia is the third
largest supplier of crude to T&T in 2014 fol-
lowing Gabon (with 46.8 per cent or 7,109,870
barrels) and Colombia (with 16.2 per cent or
Smirnov said Russia, like T&T, is an oil and
gas producing country.
In October, Bloomberg quoted Energy Min-
ister Kevin Ramnarine as saying he had halted
oil purchases from Gabon which had been
T&T s only African supplier of crude oil for
the past 20 months.
This followed the refusal by Petrotrin work-
ers, represented by the Oilfields Workers Trade
Union (OWTU), to offload the MV Overseas
Yellowstone which arrived from Gabon last
week with half a billion dollars worth of oil.
Ramnarine said Russia would continue to
be one of the places that T&T would import
"We cooperate in the frame of Gas Exporting
Countries Forum (GECF) and support our
candidatures in different international fora.
Recently, the Minister of Energy Kevin Ram-
narine visited Moscow to participate at World
Petroleum Congress. He was leading a dele-
gation from T&T," Smirnov said.
Smirnov is also hoping that Caribbean Air-
lines (CAL) purchases Russian-made passenger
Speaking at UWI two weeks ago, he
described some of CAL s planes as "ageing"
and said Russia would be happy to sell aircraft
to the airline.
"We are proposing co-operation in the avi-
ation sector. One of the major Russian aircraft
companies, Sukhoi Aviation Company, has
proposed selling a civil Superjet 100 to CAL.
We already sell them to different countries,
In the area of the media, he wants the
Caribbean region to follow the increasingly
popular Russia Today (RT) news channel in
Over the last few years, many in the Eng-
lish-speaking world have diversified their news
sources away from traditional US media and
now RT has a global reach of over 700 million
people in more than 100 countries.
"RT news covers the major issues of our
times for viewers wishing to question more
and deliver stories often missed by the main-
stream media to create news with an edge.
RT provides an alternative perspective on major
global events, and acquaints an international
audience with the Russian viewpoint."
Speaking at UWI two weeks ago, he said
the next World Cup in Russia will give both
countries a chance to develop ties in tourism.
"I hope that T&T is preparing to take part
in the World Cup in Russia in 2018. We know
that T&T has already taken part in one World
Cup in the past and we will be happy to see
not only the T&T football team but many
T&T nationals as tourists in our country in
2018. Over five billion people all over the world
look at the World Cup and this helps build
bi-lateral ties between the two countries."
The economy of Russia is a mixed economy
with state ownership in strategic areas of the
economy. Russia s gross domestic product
(GDP) grew by 1.3 per cent in 2013 and Russia s
Economic Ministry estimates 0.5 per cent
growth in 2014.
Market reforms of the 1990s privatised
much of Russian industry and agriculture,
with notable exceptions in the energy and
defence-related sectors. Abundance of natural
resources, including oil, natural gas and pre-
cious metals, make up a major share of Russia s
exports. As of 2012, the oil and gas sector
accounted for 16 per cent of the GDP 52 per
cent of federal budget revenues and over 70
per cent of total exports.
It is still left to be seen how Western sanc-
tions will affect Russia s economy. On Monday,
a BBC report indicated that Russia s Finance
Minister, Anton Siluanov said falling oil price
is costing Russia up to US$100 billion a year,
while Western sanctions have hit the country
by US$40 billion.
BG4 COVER STORY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt NOVEMBER 2014 • WEEK FOUR
Russian Ambassador to T&T
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
T&T, Russia trade
small but growing
Ambassador Nikolay Smirnov:
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