Whether President Barack Obama or Governor Mitt Romney wins the United States presidential race, Trinidad and Tobago needs to get serious with respect to diversifying away from oil and gas as both men are intent on becoming energy independent, says political analyst Indera Sagewan-Alli.
Sagewan-Alli, and UWI history lecturer Armando Garcia were guests on a TV6 panel discussion last night on the US election race. Sagewan-Alli was speaking before the election results was declared.
Sagewan-Alli pointed out that both Obama and Romney, during their election campaigning, spoke about alternative energy and energy independence.
“The US is our largest buyer of oil and gas, as a result it becomes a real issue...Obama is touting alternative energy in terms of wind, solar and biofuel and Mitt Romney is talking energy independence,” she said.
“It means they are going to try to become independent from the Arab world where they import a lot of oil from, Venezuela and we know Chavez and the United States are no big friends.
She said the US will seek to become independent from all other countries which they import from, including Trinidad and Tobago, which “means our economy could be in some problems as soon as they put those policies in effect”.
Sagewan-Alli said that while this will be a good move for the US in terms of reducing that country’s energy bill, “It would not be good for Trinidad and Tobago to lose our largest buyer of oil.”
She noted further that she has been hearing of diversification “before I was born” and stressed that this was a depleting asset.
Sagewan-Alli added that the issue of security as it related to transnational drug crisis and crime in the region, HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean and climate change are other key issues that need to be addressed by the incoming American President.
Last night preliminary election results showed a neck-and-neck race between Obama and Mitt Romney.
Garcia spoke of the importance of the swing votes and explained the electoral college process.
The US presidential win, he said, was not determined by popular vote but by electoral vote which is a combination or total of the Senators and the Representatives in the US Congress which amounts to some 538.
Therefore the candidate to get at least 270 votes clinches victory.
A swing state, said Garcia, has a significant number of electoral votes such as Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Nevada and Arizona.
Also commenting on the US election last night was Dr Gregory Carr, professor of African American studies at Howard University.
Carr said there was a heavy turnout at the polls yesterday and this showed a “resolute determination” in support of President Obama.
“It is very clear as well that, as was the case of Ronald Reagan, who during his first term got some things done but not nearly as much as he got done in his second term,” he said.
“A second term Obama presidency may very well summit this President’s reputation as one of the transformative Presidents of the early 21st century,” Carr added.
He said whilst the unemployment rate remains at double digits in the US and Obama was under criticism from the black community, the people understand that there were many obstructions against the President and this issue was resolved.