Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte, said that the Government is working to ensure that trade agreements being negotiated contain provisions to foster the development of the country.
“There is a commitment on the part of the Government to . ensure that whatever agreements we enter into from now on actually benefit us in a tangible way,” she said in her address at a seminar on trade agreements held today (February 9) at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston.
State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte (right) is greeted by President of the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA) Vitus Evans, on arrival at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on Tuesday (February 9) to participate in a seminar on trade agreements, staged by the JEA and the Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN).
According to Senator Malahoo Forte, Jamaica’s trade negotiations are normally premised on the fact that these agreements will provide opportunities for market penetration and expansion; prospect for the expansion of the private sector, including forging business partnership, technological advancement and improved competitiveness; attracting and encouraging investment; and improving the balance of trade.
“The fundamental premise is to ensure the growth and development of our economy and to realise welfare gains for the Jamaican population,” she stressed.
She said that “it is not always the case that we are the demander of trade agreements and it becomes critical therefore for the Government to be able to answer ‘what is the benefit to us and how much it will cost us’. That is a role that the Government plays or has to play.”
Citing the Canada/CARICOM trade and development agreement, which is being negotiated, Senator Malahoo Forte said that while it deals with market access it also addresses the supply side constraints of the market, including the ability of Jamaica and the wider region to competitively support products and services that are liberalised by the agreement.
“The way in which the Government and other stakeholders in the prospective market can be engaged in the area of development co-operation and assistance to address the region’s supply side constraint, and in this regard, the transfer of cost-effective technology is going to be critical,” she added, noting that the modalities for liberalisation will have to be looked at to see whether they are compatible with development in the region.
Senator Malahoo Forte, who has portfolio responsibility for foreign trade, noted that when entering into negotiations, which would lead to a trade agreement, the Government subscribes to the model of being an enabler and not a participant in the market, creating the environment for those who will be trading to ensure that they can do so on a level playing field.
Entitled: ‘Trade Agreements 101′, the seminar, organised by the Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN) and the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA) was held to sensitise businesses and private sector associations about trade agreements and provide a forum through which they could learn more about potential business opportunities under regional and international trade agreements.