(Jamaica Gleaner) Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago last week signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the establishment of a trade-facilitation office in Trinidad.
The MOU was signed between the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association, the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and the Bermudez Group Limited, which is funding the office.
Milton Samuda, president of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, said the parties “have struck a blow for reason and results for free and fair trade and fair competition between sister states”.
The collaboration between the entities seeks to address the US$60 million trade imbalance which favours Trinidad and Tobago, and promote free and fair competition.
It will address issues related to regulations, standards, import procedures, current trade laws, customs and treatment of goods. The office will also provide relevant market information, and facilitate market access and networking.
Samuda argued that “the trade-facilitation office takes a pragmatic approach to addressing the well-publicised trade impasse between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago”.
“Jamaican exporters have long complained that in Trinidad and Tobago they find not the welcoming arms of a CARICOM market, but rather the persistent, resistant non-tariff walls of a closed and protected market.
Trinidadian officials have constantly retorted that the Jamaican exporters fail to inform themselves of market requirements and, therefore, fail to meet the standards for entry, including sanitary and phyto-sanitary procedures,” Samuda said.
Catherine Kumar, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce, said Jamaica is an important market for Trinidad.
She said that in in 2010, total exports to Jamaica stood at TT$4.5 billion. For that same period, imports from Jamaica to Trinidad and Tobago totalled some TT$69 million.
“Fair conditions for trade are crucial to both our economies,” Kumar said.