Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Arnaldo Brown, said that the Government will utilise the mechanisms under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to defend Jamaica’s trade interests in CARICOM.
Mr. Brown was making his contribution to the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate on Tuesday (July 10) in the House of Representatives.
He noted that in any free trade area, disputes and disagreements will arise from time to time, but “member states must be prepared to utilize dispute settlement procedures to resolve trade disputes. It is for this reason that these provisions were negotiated."
He stated that the Ministry has considerable experience and expertise in handling difficult trade issues within the regional context and will continue to address any grievances of the private sector, once they are brought to the Ministry’s attention.
He said there is considerable anecdotal evidence about obstacles to Jamaica’s trade with CARICOM however, in real terms, the first stage of dispute settlement requires concrete evidence.
"Such information must be reported formally to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade with supporting documentation. The matter can then be raised bilaterally with the offending member state or at the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), which is the appropriate organ of CARICOM for such issues,” he advised.
He noted that at the 34th COTED meeting held in Georgetown, Guyana in March 2012, several issues were raised relating to the operation of the single market, including the suspension of the Common External Tariff (CET), free movement of nationals, and matters arising in external trade negotiations.
Mr. Brown informed that the second stage of dispute settlement arises when there is failure to receive any redress through the bilateral approach or through COTED.
Under Article 187 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, member states can choose to resort to dispute settlement under the following circumstances: allegations of actual or proposed measures by member states, which are inconsistent with the Treaty; allegations of injury suffered or likely to be suffered, as well as impairment of benefits expected from the establishment and operations of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME); allegations that an organ or body of the Community has acted ultra vires (beyond its powers);or that the purpose or object of the Treaty is being frustrated or prejudiced.
Mr. Brown said that the modes of dispute settlement provided for in the Treaty are many and varied.
“According to Article 188 (1), they are: good offices; mediation; consultations, conciliation, arbitration and adjudication by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in its original jurisdiction. The Treaty also encourages that each mode of dispute settlement be exhausted before proceeding to another mode. The decisions from arbitration and adjudication are binding on all member states party to the dispute,” he informed.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter