The British Empire began loosening its imperial grip on Trinidad in 1950 by granting the peoples of Trinidad semi-autonomous rule. This event marked the inception of party politics in both Trinidad and Tobago. The People's National Movement (PNM), the dominant Trinidad party, asserted the import-substitution industrialization and export promotion economic policy that has shaped and continues to shape Trinidad's economy. Soon after being elected in 1956, Dr. Eric Williams, the head of the PNM, introduced the First Five-Year Development Plan, which lasted from 1958 to 1962, also known as "The Peoples Charter for Economic and Social Development." Its main goal was to modify past economic models that emphasized oil and sugar production by concentrating on more direct government action to mobilize these resources. This nationalist approach targeted the cultivation of a capitalist country.
Industrialization in the 1950s was a process supported and controlled by the ruling classes. Post-colonial conditions were not auspicious for the rise of a bourgeoisie class. Therefore, the industrialization easily transitioned into a period of national state capitalism beginning with the First Five-Year plan and continuing with two more, spanning from 1964-1968 and 1969-1973.
These plans further inculcated the state in Trinidads economy, creating nationalist monopolies through controlling public utilities and extending further into banking and insurance. Furthermore, it was aced with the institutionalization of the state in fostering foreign investment through legislation and the creation of the Industrial Development Corporation. With the institution of this new model, grounds were cultivated for the blossoming of an indigenous bourgeoisie class heavily dependent on foreign capital.
The economy began to turn outward at the onset of the oil boom, 1974-1980. The government began to cater to foreign multinationals through joint ventures to gain access to foreign markets. Trinidad experienced an economic boom wherein oil totally eclipsed the production of sugar, coffee and cocoa.
Ambursley, Fitzroy and Robin Cohen. Crisis in the Caribbean. Kingston, Jamaica: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd, 1983.
Last modified: 25 November 2003