Trinidad and Tobago's future, like its past, is inextricably linked to the international oil market and the price of petroleum. When world oil prices are high, the country prospers; when they fall, it suffers. Although not a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Trinidad and Tobago's economic well-being is largely decided by OPEC's manipulation of international oil prices. The advent of gas production and the policy of developing other industries has reduced Trinidad and Tobago's long-term dependence on oil, a direction that will be followed by the government in the future. At the heart of this industrial diversification will be the expansion of heavy industries and a growing capacity for manufactured exports.
Tourism will also be encouraged as the government contemplates the possibility of falling oil prices and even the eventual exhaustion of oil reserves. This sector has barely been explored and has enormous potential, especially with the country's proximity to South America. At the same time, the government will seek to rid itself of the loss-making and old-fashioned sugar industry. It remains to be seen whether it also seeks to reduce the role of the state in the strategic oil and gas industries as well as telecommunications.