Trade battle brewing between Jamaica, Trinidad

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A battle is brewing between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago over the alleged blocking of products from Kingston.

Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Karl Samuda, said during his contribution to the Budget Debate that he would not sit by and allow the continuation of non-tariff barriers being imposed on Jamaican products.

He put his cards on the table after revealing that an established manufacturer who sought to enter the Trinidadian market “was blocked and not permitted to get an import licence for the product to enter Trinidad, because they said they had to visit the facility in Jamaica, before they will allow the goods to be shipped”.

“If every time we are to enter a market, you have to travel to the source of the product and inspect it, then Bureau of Standards organisations throughout the world would mean nothing,” the Minister added.

“So, anybody who believes that on my watch as Minister, that I am going to sit idly by and have people impose non tariff barriers and use all sorts of excuses to bar our products entering their market, while their products are free to enter our market, is making a sad mistake.”

Samuda insisted that determining whether to allow a product into a country should be based only on whether it can compete efficiently, whether the goods are of international standard, or whether adequate quantities can be supplied consistently.

He noted that the Ministry is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, to ensure that Jamaican producers are put on the same level playing field.

“We don’t want any preferential treatment, we ask for what we deserve and it’s an opportunity to compete fairly. So anybody in any one of our sister territories who are engaged in or who are contemplating continuing with this type of policy, had better review that policy, because we are no longer prepared to sit back and have that continue,” Minister Samuda declared.

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