Customs and duties are a significant source of government revenue. Most imported articles are subject to import duties, as well as a stamp tax, an import surcharge, a value-added tax (VAT–15%), and excise taxes on petroleum products, tobacco, and alcoholic beverages that are sold locally. Trinidad and Tobago applies the CARICOM common external tariff to most goods. The rates range from zero to 20%.
Free trade zones (FTZs) were authorized by law in 1988; the first FTZ was established in the Point Lisas Industrial Estate. Trinidad and Tobago is a member of CARICOM, a signatory to the Lomè Convention, and has special trade agreements with Venezuela, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, and the United States. The country benefits from the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), which allows duty-free entry of many products into the United States.