By Leah Sorias From Trinidad Express
CHIEF executive officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) Dr Ramesh Ramdeen believes more trade could be taking place among Caribbean countries but bureaucracy is stymieing the growth of trade.
“We need bureaucracy to be as minimal as possible to allow the free flow of goods and services,” he said. “Issues pertaining to Sanitary Phytosanitary (SPS) measures. We need our Government officials to get this thing sorted out so we could engage and trade with one another.”
SPS measures are measures to protect humans, animals, and plants from diseases, pests or contaminants.
Ramdeen was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Jamaica Promotions Corporation’s (JAMPRO) Caribbean Market Mission at the Hilton Trinidad last Thursday.
“There is no reason why Trinidad and Tobago’s import food bill should be close to $4 billion or $5 billion, and we bring in a lot of those goods from outside the region, when right here within the region—Guyana, Jamaica, Haiti—some of those goods can be sourced. But we cannot trade because we haven’t sorted out the SPS issues,” he said.
He added: “I often hear people say the market (region) is saturated, but saturated with what? Is it saturated with T&T products or Jamaica products? The answer is no. Most of the products coming to within the region that we consume come from extra-regional sources.”
“There are always opportunities for market sharing within the region for regional manufacturers and producers but I continue to say that some of the reasons why it is not happening as it should is because of bureaucracy and the matters that need to be sorted out at the national level and the Caricom level, through the Caricom Secretariat.”
The two-day trade mission comprised 11 Jamaican manufacturers from Jamaica’s micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector.
They promoted a range of exotic food and drinks, skin and haircare products, chemical products, as well as agricultural irrigation systems—all manufactured in Jamaica.
US$400m trade imbalance
Addressing participants, Jamaican High Commissioner David Prendergast noted that although the volume of trade in goods between T&T and Jamaica has been significant over the years, “the persistent imbalance remains”.
“In 2015 Jamaica exported just over US$12 million in goods to Trinidad and Tobago. This translated to a substantial trade deficit of over US$400 million. In this regard, the JAMPRO trade mission to Trinidad and Tobago provides an opportunity to seek to improve Jamaica’s exports into the Trinidad and Tobago market,” he said.
“Another important component of our thrust towards enhancing trade and investments between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago is our Diaspora engagement—some of whom are represented here today. The government of Jamaica recognises the potential of the Diaspora in boosting commerce and initiating business ventures across borders,” he added.
IMAGE: BEST OF JAMAICA: Antoinette Davis, centre, chief executive of Ettenio, shows Jamaican products at her booth during the JAMPRO Caribbean Market Mission opening ceremony at the Hilton Trinidad last Thursday. Flanking her are Florence Beepath-Moonsammy, left, and Kristine Robinson, both managers at SuperPharm. -Photo: STEPHEN DOOBAY