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Tensions with T&T overshadow Jamaica Expo

Continuing tensions between Jamaica and T&T are forming part of the backdrop to Thursday’s launch of Expo Jamaica 2016—the country’s largest trade exposition.

Organisers have estimated that during the four days of showcasing locally-manufactured products, up to US$2.5 million in business will be generated.

President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) William Mahfood has called for restrictions on T&T imports in the face of what he claims was a breach of the Caribbean Community Single Market and Economy (CSME) when a group of Jamaican visitors were turned back at Piarco International Airport on March 21.

The PSOJ is not directly involved in the event, but many of its members have signed up for the mammoth exposition.

A Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) animated public service video entitled Jamaica wins again, released online last week, maintained the high pitch of responses to the development.

A JMA release has described the T&T immigration stance as “divisive” since “the goal of hassle-free movement is an enshrined right which must not be held to the whims and fancies of any individual or Member State.”

The JMA video depicts three competitors in a race against imported products featuring competitors clad in the national colours of T&T, Barbados and Jamaica.

The race commentator calls on spectators to supports things made in Jamaica in order to create more jobs and give people money to spend. In the end “Jamaica wins!” exclaims the commentator.

Yesterday, Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA) vice president Paul Lewis referred to Jamaica’s “valued trading partners in Caricom” saying Expo organisers welcomed the country’s regional business connections this week.

“Like our cricketers last week at the T20 and our athletes, musicians and varied talents, we will continue to punch above our weight in providing champion goods and services to our valued trading partners around the Caricom region and globally,” he told the T&T Guardian.

“We are looking forward to welcoming them all to Jamaica this week...and are thrilled at the business and export opportunities that will come to light from this dynamic exposition.”

“Champion breakthroughs, champion goods and service, champion regional and global trade. That’s the agenda.” Lewis said.

Several business representatives from T&T are due to attend the expo under the theme The Business Hub of the Caribbean.

It is a collaboration involving the country’s major business groupings including the JMA, JEA, state run JAMPRO Trade and Investment Jamaica.

Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith, has been quoted as saying talks with T&T Foreign Minister Dennis Moses have begun in an attempt to resolve the issue “at the political level.”

Courtesy: Trinidad Guardian
By: Wesley Gibbings

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