KINGSTON, Jamaica, May 1, CMC – Trinidad and Tobago’s Trade and Industry Minister Stephen Cadiz says much of the current issues as it relate to an imbalance of trade between his Port of Spain and Jamaica can be sorted out through dialogue.
A Jamaica Information Service (JIS) statement Tuesday said that Cadiz met recently with his Jamaican counterpart Anthony Hylton to “discuss an array of issues pertinent to both countries in the areas of trade, agriculture, energy and manufacturing.
It quoted Cadiz as saying that the Kamla Persad Bissessar administration is willing to continue talks with Jamaica to reach an amicable solution to the problems facing both countries and the region at large.
“At the end of the day, it is all about building real, true Caribbean unity and integration,” he said.
Cadiz admitted that trade issues surrounding cement, Jamaican music and even patties, have caused the two countries to be at odds for a number of years, but said this should not be the case.
“One of the main issues is the differential and disparity, and imbalance in the trade between Trinidad and Jamaica. We have been looking at ways and means of how to correct this in a real sense, not just doing good public relations,” he said.
Data shows that from 2005 to 2009 Jamaica gained between three to five million US dollars from exports to the twin republic, but in contrast Jamaica imported goods and services estimated at between 26 to US$34 million during that period.
Cadiz said that when he took office in June 2010, “there were wars in the Caribbean and I thought we were back to the Pirates of the Caribbean, because the wars were being fought and I don’t think too many of us realised what was happening and why we had wars in the first place.
“There were all kinds of bad-blood between Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica. We had the patty wars…then there was the cement wars and even had wars over Ding Dong (singer), because he was banned from performing in Trinidad before even singing a note,” he said.
The JIS statement said that “Cadiz is adamant” that such issues must be sorted out through dialogue and communication between both governments, before they get out of control.
“I am glad we are able to be here to re-establish this relationship, because if we leave it up to the Food and Drugs Division in Trinidad, we will continue with the patty wars; if we leave it up to Customs and Immigration, we are going to continue with the Ding Dong wars; and if we leave it to Trinidad Cement, we will always have a cement war,” he said.
“So, my view on the whole thing is not to have that. Let us have a very good working relationship. We will have our differences, we will disagree, but at least we know what we are disagreeing about,” he added.
Cadiz further noted that many of the regulations governing the decisions of Trinidad and Tobago’s Food and Drugs Division are archaic, “hence the reason we had these issues.”
He said he was therefore working with his country’s Ministry of Health to bring the Division under the control of that Ministry to ensure that “we bring the Food and Drugs Division out of the dark ages to be able to deal with all these situations.”