Jamaica's trade agenda needs to be more ambitious, says Hylton

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Jamaica's trade agenda needs to be more ambitious, says Hylton

Thursday, July 02, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica— People's National Party spokesman on industry, competitiveness and global logistics, Anthony Hylton says the country's trade agenda needs to be more ambitious than the current “defensive posture” of Caricom on external trade.

During his sectoral debate presentation this week, Hylton said that developing a network of trade agreements, which ensure market access and low or no tariffs for goods and services produced in the country, is a prerequisite for Jamaica realising its “full potential as the logistics gateway to the Americas”.

“There are some low hanging fruits where some Caricom countries, such as Trinidad and Tobago and Belize, have sought and obtained waivers to enter into full or partial scope trade agreements with other countries, with whom Jamaica and other more defensive Caricom countries did not want to expand trade with at that time,” he said.

“However, a condition of the grant of a waiver by the COTED, the Council on Trade and Economic Development, is that every such agreement must contain a provision allowing all other Caricom countries to join such agreements, either singly or collectively, subject of course to negotiations with the non-Caricom country partner,” Hylton argued.

He said a strategic approach would allow for quick movement in opening up trade lanes, “without enduring the interminable haggling and delays attendant on intra-Caricom discussions on matters of trade, internal or external.”

“Jamaica needs quick wins in its trade agenda in order to secure its comparative and competitive advantages as the Logistics Gateway to the Americas,” the spokesman said.

Hylton said Jamaica should join the existing Partial Scope Agreement between Trinidad and Tobago and Panama, which was signed in October 2013.

“The next level of agreements to be signed in carrying out this strategy should be with those countries in Latin America, including Columbia, Mexico, Venezuela etc, washed by the Caribbean Sea and for which purpose the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) was established,” he added

During his presentation, Hylton also said that “negotiating bilateral or plurilateral trade agreements is the only option available to Jamaica/ Caricom, where the multilateral trading system appears to be at a standstill, as signified by the announced early resignation of the current WTO Director General.”

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