Business

Jamaica, Trinidad strengthen trade relations

BY JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant Business co-ordinator richardsonj@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 06, 2012    

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JAMAICAN exporters to Trinidad & Tobago may find the going easier in the two-island republic, following the setting up of a Trade Facilitation Desk in that country.

The Jamaica/Trinidad & Tobago Trade Facilitation Desk was officially launched last year but became operational recently, following the appointment of Naika Pichi-Ayers to administer the desk. Pichi-Ayers is a native of Guadeloupe with considerable experience in trade and cooperation matters.

With the Trade Facilitation Desk, established to assist Jamaican exporters of goods and services, local businesses will now be better placed to access marketplace intelligence and become informed about import regulations and other entry requirements in Trinidad. What's more is that businesses will receive on-the-ground assistance, including intermediation with the various arms of government involved in the import process, in their efforts to penetrate the Trinidadian market, said Pichi-Ayers during a recent visit to Jamaica to speak with the local private and public sector communities.

According to the trade desk officer, the level of interest displayed by Jamaican businesses has been pleasing and augurs well for the achievements of tangible results in the medium term.

The Trade Facilitation Desk is located in the Port of Spain offices of the Trinidad & Tobago Manufacturers' Association (TTMA) and was set up following discussions between private sector interests in both countries in 2011, and the subsequent signing of an MOU between the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), The Trinidad & Tobago Chamber of Industry & Commerce (TTCIC), the Trinidad & Tobago Manufacturers' Association (TTMA) and the Bermudez Group Limited (BGL). Other collaborating Jamaican entities include the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association, the Jamaica Exporters Association, and the Small Business Association of Jamaica. The American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica (AMCHAM Jamaica) has also agreed to join the initiative.

JCC president Milton Samuda said the move was in response to the trade imbalance which exists between Jamaica and the rest of Caricom and Jamaican exporters who had indicated difficulties in accessing the Trinidadian market particularly.

"We wanted someone on the ground whose focus would be to enable Jamaican exporters to Trinidad, to get in without a difficulty and to address areas of concern, which is only part of the JCC strategy," said Samuda. "We view it as a proactive and practical step in the direction of assisting Jamaican manufacturers and exporters who want to access the Trinidadian market."

Complaints from Jamaican businesspersons on barriers to enter the Trinidadian market have been widespread. More recently, there was a huge outcry in Jamaica after Trinidad blocked Tastee patties from being exported there because of concerns it raised about sanitary standards.

The BGL is underwriting the costs associated with the establishment of the trade desk for an initial period of one year.

Jamaica has a widening trade deficit with Caricom, now nearly US$1.2 billion ($104.6 billion), with Trinidad accounting for the bulk of the imbalance.

Over the June 25-29 period, Pichi-Ayers participated in a series of consultations with current and prospective exporters of goods and services to Trinidad and Tobago, business support organisations and representative of the public sector institutions that play key roles in the export process. The meetings included discussions with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce; the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries; Jamaica Promotions Corporation; the High Commission of T&T to Jamaica; American Chamber of Commerce, the Bureau of Standards of Jamaica, Jamaica Customs; National Certification body of Jamaica; Kingston Container Terminal; and Kingston Wharves.

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