As the most industrialized and second-largest country in the English-speaking Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago has taken a leading role in the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), and strongly supports CARICOM economic integration efforts. The Association of Caribbean States (ACS), formed in 1994, is headquartered in Trinidad. This 35-member grouping seeks to further economic progress and integration among its states.
In 1997, Trinidad and Tobago applied in 1997 for entrance into the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA). In 2000 the U.S. government enacted the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), known as the NAFTA Parity Bill, to extend trade benefits to producers of wearing apparel and certain other industries. Caribbean countries' share of imports to the United States had dropped from 19% in 1998 ($3.2 billion) to 12% ($2.6 billion) in 2000. CBTPA was designed to reverse the trend. Within CARICOM, Trinidad was the leading exporter, primarily of methanol, to the United States under the terms of the 1983 Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act. From January to August 2001, Trinidad exports to the United States totaled $445 billion, greater than the total for all of 2000.
In international relations, Trinidad generally follows the lead of the United States and the EU, while guarding an independent voting record. As Manning and Panday jockeyed for control of the government, Trinidad's participation in the global economy seemed not to have suffered many negative effects. Were the stalemate to continue, it would certainly have an effect on the country's relationships with its diplomatic and trading partners.