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    Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh, has reported that progress is being made in the efforts to resolve trade concerns affecting Jamaica and its CARICOM partners.
    Minister Baugh was commenting on CARICOM’S 26th Council on Trade and Economic Development meeting in Georgetown, Guyana, last Thursday and Friday.
    Minister Baugh told CARICOM Trade Ministers that Jamaica has been the largest import market in CARICOM, not just because of its relative size but moreso because it always sought to meet the letter and spirit of its CARICOM commitments and did not place roadblocks to the entry of CARICOM goods and services into Jamaica. He emphasized that Jamaica cannot continue to maintain such a position in the face of roadblocks elsewhere in the region and urged the Council to take constructive and decisive measures to correct this critical problem, in the interest of the Community and its Member States.
    Minister Baugh said that the issues involving trade in beer and spirits with Belize and in animal products with Trinidad and Tobago, had been the subject of extensive bilateral and regional consultations at the meeting. “We agreed on both a regional and bilateral approach which should lead to a resolution of both issues.”
    He added that “we expect to have a response from Belize within a few weeks advising of the action that they will take to deal with the breaching of the treaty which harm our exporters.”
    “We expect a resolution of the problem ahead of the meeting of the Heads of Government in July when we hope that this item will become history.”
    Regarding relations with Trinidad and Tobago, Minister Baugh stated that “we have agreed on a set of steps that our technical experts will take to ensure transparency, predictability and consistency in the handling of clearances for food imports.” He said, that it is expected that the most urgent actions will be taken within two weeks and that thereafter we will fine tune the arrangements for the benefit of our businessmen and women.
    Minister Baugh also stated that Jamaica has placed a set of proposals before the Council which have been adopted and to which the Secretary General has committed his “maximum attention.” Minister Baugh said “it is clear to me that the Council recognises that this is a moment of truth and that there have to be changes in the way our products are treated in the community.”
    Among the proposals made by Jamaica is a meeting of trade officials and chief veterinary officers to further discuss and advance facilitation measures to address disputes affecting trade in animal products. In moving forward, Dr. Baugh also called for the proposal to establish the Caribbean Health and Food Safety Organisation to be brought forward for urgent review and determination.
    At the COTED meeting in November 2008, Jamaica had made it clear that it would be willing to use the dispute settlement mechanism under the CARICOM Treaty to address the matters which constitute a breach of the treaty. Minister Baugh confirmed that this option would remain under consideration should there be a setback in the process.
    Contact: Wilton DyerTel: 501-095019th May, 2009

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