JIS News

Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda, has said that harmonisation of economies within CARICOM, will prove a major challenge against the background that some Jamaican products face trade blockade by regional territories.
The Minister said the trade blockade, worsened recently when a shipment of Jamaican beef patties was denied access by the Trinidad and Tobago authorities, was a frustrating situation, which received consultation and discussion at the highest level.
“The level of frustration that has been relayed to me and my officers in respect of this attempt to export to Trinidad, cannot be described in any other language but frustrating and it serves as a major impediment to the concept of free trade within CARICOM,” Mr. Samuda said at a press conference convened at the Ministry’s office on St. Lucia Avenue in New Kingston on June 4.
Following several weeks of consultations, including at the highest level, between the Governments of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, the shipment of patties received clearance into the twin-island on June 1.
Mr. Samuda, however, pointed out that Jamaican manufacturers were also experiencing difficulties in terms of exporting goods to other territories, such as Belize and Barbados.
“We wish to adhere to all the provisions of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, but there is a limit beyond which we are not prepared to go. We are not prepared to see the frustration and discouragement of our manufacturing sector to the point where people will go out of business in the productive sector,” he added.
The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), was signed in 2001 by regional territories, such as Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
Citing Jamaica’s trade deficit within the region, the Minister described the trade blockade as unfair. He indicated that during 2008, regionally, Jamaica imported $260 million worth of goods, against the $64 million value of exports.
“Now you will understand why we are so vigilant and determined to ensure that nobody takes advantage of those of us who are prepared to work hard, produce good products, that can be sold within our community,” he stressed.
Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding has requested Secretary-General of CARICOM, Dr. Edwin Carrington, to add the issue of the trade blockade on the agenda for the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting, scheduled for July.

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