KINGSTON — Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon Karl Samuda, has described as “enlightening and successful”, the results of the trade mission he led to Trinidad and Tobago last week.
Mr. Samuda attributed this to the establishment of linkages with counterpart agencies, and discussions on reducing the bureaucracy existing between both countries, as well as other states in the region. He was speaking at a press briefing at his Ministry, New Kingston, on Wednesday April 6.
The mission, which included representatives of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA), the Jamaica Exporters' Association (JEA) and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), as well as representatives of JAMPRO and private companies, visited Trinidad and Tobago between March 27 and 30.
Mr. Samuda pointed to the critical area of standards, which some of the discussions focused on, including developing a common approach to standards throughout the region, which would be necessary to penetrate European markets.
“So it was determined that there would be, through a collaborative approach, an agency in Trinidad, which would work closely with ours (the Bureau of Standards Jamaica), and others in the region, so that we would have a universally compliant process that would not face any challenges, as we seek to trade within the territory and other jurisdictions,” he said.
Mr. Samuda said he also held discussions with his Trinidadian counterpart, Stephen Cadiz, laying the foundation for a solid working relationship.
He said that they had agreed to collaborate and cut through the bureaucracy, to establish all the linkages necessary to enable both countries to fend off any difficulties which may arise, from time to time.
“I was heartened by his expressions of goodwill, and his commitment to work with us in Jamaica,” he added.
One priority area, which could be acted upon immediately, he said were the linkages between agriculture and industry; the conversion of primary products into secondary products, to retain value for the region, both domestically and regionally.
“To work with countries within our region that have the capacity to facilitate the expansion of agricultural development, so that we can draw on those resources to create the kind of agro industrial activities that can put our products on the shelves of Europe and North America,” he explained.
In an effort to reduce red tape, one of the initiatives that Jamaica is hoping to share with the Trinidad and Tobago is a system, which would inform various aspects of trading.
“It is a costly system, which we would like to introduce, and we are working to see to what extent we can engage the whole thing, at a reduced cost,” the Minister said.
Mr. Samuda stressed that his visit was not simply designed to see how best Jamaican products can access the Trinidadian market, but to go beyond that and move local products into the large markets of the world, which would be too much of a challenge if Jamaica tried to do it alone.
“With the kind of collaboration and support that we received, we are pretty satisfied that the intention is there; all the necessary indicators are positive,” told the briefing.
Mr. Samuda also said that the mission was pleased with the first hand view of some of the operations in Trinidad and Tobago.
“There was evidence of tremendous capital investment in machinery and systems, which have certainly enabled them to be competitive,” he remarked.
The mission included: a team from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; the Jamaican High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, Her Excellency Sharon Saunders; Trade Analyst in the Ministry, Andrene Collings; Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF), Dr. Marc Panton; Director of the Centre of Excellence for Advance Technology in Agriculture, Dr. Derrick Deslandes; Manager for Caribbean, Latin America and Emerging Markets, JAMPRO, Vivion Scully; Chief Executive Officer of Truly Jamaican Farm, Gary Coulton; General Manager of Dairy Industries Limited, Grace Kennedy Group, Andrew Ho; President of the Jamaica Exporters’ Association, Vitus Evans; President of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association, Omar Azan; and Vice President of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, Francis Kennedy;
Trinidad's Minister of Trade and Industry, Stephen Cadiz, has been invited to lead a similar trade mission to Jamaica in the near future.
Mr. Samuda said that this would allow for the continuation of the process of “genuine integration”, as it relates to trade and the areas of priority.
By ALPHEA SAUNDERS, JIS Reporter