Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica sign MoU to address trade concerns faster

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne. File photo/Jeff Mayers

A memorandum of understanding was signed between this country and Jamaica on Monday which it is hoped will improve trade between the two nations and resolve trade issues faster.

In a media release on Monday, the Trade Ministry said Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne and Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith signed the MoU establishing a trade complaints mechanism that will create an avenue “for the expeditious resolution of trade complaints.”

At a media conference on Monday at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, the prime ministers of both countries said the MoU will strengthen ties between the nations, with Dr Rowley saying in the last six years trade relations between the two went from a two to an eight on a scale of zero to ten.

In 2016 Rowley was called to Jamaica by Prime Minister Holness amidst planned boycott of Trinidad and Tobago goods. Rowley said on Monday the issue was a result of bureaucratic obstacles fuelled by those he refused to name. Since then, he said, trade between the two countries had strengthened and would continue to do so.

Apart from trade, the two said the bilateral talks involved exchange in culture and sports and discussions on addressing crime. Holness said when they compared notes he realised that the two nations, which both gained independence from Britain in 1962, had a lot of commonalities.

As part of a deepening of relations, Holness said Jamaica would be inviting schools from TT to participate in its sporting competitions and exploring ways Jamaica can benefit from TT’s costume design talents. He said that was part of the vision for Caricom that past leaders like Dr Eric Williams envisioned.

“The Caricom Single Market Economy (CSME) is only going to materialise when you not only have free movement of goods, but also free movement of labour and free movement of capital. That allows for a more efficient allocation of resources and for the expansion of trade opportunities and it brings life and meaning to this business of regional integration.”

To combat any further obstacles, Holness said both countries will be legislating ways to allow free flow of business and labour. He added that there is no reason for companies registered in one country not to be recognised in another with the CSME.

In June the Caribbean Community Skilled Nationals (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was passed in the Senate.

Rowley said the agreement is about creating “the largest possible market for suppliers,” adding that Caricom is stronger together “on every issue, and in every respect.”

Chiming in, Holness said the posture and voice of Caricom is changing, for the better, adding that coming out of the Summit of the Americas it is evident now that there is a need for Caricom to secure its food, labour and financial supplies.

The media release said TT and Jamaica trade over $1 billion worth of products annually and each has significant investments in the other.

The trade complaints mechanism’s primary objective is to provide predictable and transparent procedures and channels of communication for resolving complaints allowing exporters a fixed point of contact for their complaints, which will be resolved within 48 days from receipt.