Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, has called on the Jamaican business community to intensify its partnerships with businesses in other CARICOM states.
Speaking at a Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) luncheon in her honour, at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston Friday July 9, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar said this was needed to ensure that CARICOM member states collectively reap optimal benefits from the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).
“Jamaica is one of our main trading partners and senior fellow member of state of the CARICOM and, therefore, it is essential to speak with you on issues which are pertinent to the development of the economies of Jamaica and of Trinidad and Tobago,” she said.
Minister of Investment, Industry and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda (left) greets Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the ‘Meet the Prime Ministers’ series’ luncheon at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston Friday July 9. Also pictured is President of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, Milton Samuda.
She noted that one of the immediate tasks that both countries need to tackle was the cushioning of international pressures on their economies, as their manufacturing sectors have not been immune to the impact of the financial crisis.
“The challenge now facing our companies is to introduce new processes and increase investments, and to engage in such activities as are necessary to ensure that businesses will be in even better shape to overtake their competitors, when the global economic climate improves,” she asserted.
Mrs. Persad-Bissessar also said that one of the realities that businesses in operation in 2010, and beyond, must face is the global nature of markets.
“Competition is a fact of life and knows no geographical boundaries. I think this fact is quite known in your business community, and the real challenge lies in the response we make,” she said.
President of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, Milton Samuda (second right) presents Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, with a gift from the Chamber during their ‘Meet the Prime Ministers’ series luncheon at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston Friday July 9. Looking on from left are: Managing Director, Strategic Corporate Interventions Limited, Courtney Lodge, and Chairman, Strategic Corporate Interventions Limited, Christopher Samuda.
She argued that, in her view, the implementation of protective measures, at a national or regional level, would not help the region’s cause, unless such action is targeted in the context of a well thought-out development strategy for the medium to longer term period.
“In the case of the manufacturers in (Trinidad and Tobago) they have their own challenges, as they struggle with the issue of competitiveness. The relative competitive edge, demonstrated over some other regional producers, certainly cannot be attributed solely to the utilisation of the benefits associated with oil and natural gas,” she explained.
Mrs. Persad-Bissessar also noted that over the last two decades the region has negotiated a number of trade agreements, including with the European Union (EU). She advised that it was time that CARICOM ensure that its business community rise to overcome the challenges preventing them from making use of some of these agreements.
“As we strive for an expanded market space, it is necessary that we look in those arrangements, which our exporters have utilised over the years to bear significant business relationships, and ensure that our negotiations obtain development support provisions geared to improving our supply capacity,” she said.
Supported by the JCC, the “Meet the Prime Ministers” series is the brainchild of Strategic Corporate Interventions Limited and the law firm Samuda and Johnson. It provides an opportunity for business leaders and professionals to interface with Prime Ministers of the region, on critical social, political and economic matters affecting the Caribbean economies and community.
Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Hon. Bruce Golding, Prime Minister of Barbados, Hon. David Thompson, and Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Denzil Douglas, have been guest speakers at previous editions.