Stuart to address TT issue
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart will be taking Barbados’ concerns about its trade problems with Trinidad and Tobago directly to that country’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
And there is no danger of Jamaica pulling out of CARICOM.
Stuart spoke to both issues today after a four-hour Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) at the Bay Gardens Hotel in Gros Islet, St Lucia, held ahead of tomorrow’s opening of the 33rd Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government at the Sandals Grande St Lucian Spa and Beach Resort.
Barbados’ trade controversy involving Banks Holdings’ Pinehill Dairy juices and milk products being blocked from entry into Trinidad and Tobago was not on that meeting agenda. But Stuart, in response to questions from reporters, said while he was not at war with the twin-island republic, he had to make Barbados’ position clear.
“The relationship between Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados is an almost symbiotic one. Trinidad has massive investments in Barbados and Trinidad cannot afford to have Barbadians feel that they’re being hard done by in the relationship between the two countries and, therefore, we must up our game a bit, be a little more vigilant and ensure that we do not allow these things to happen,” he said.
On the matter of concerns by Jamaica’s opposition spokesman on industry Karl Samuda that Kingston was not really benefiting from CARICOM and his request that a decision about leaving the bloc be made in the near future, Stuart said that position was in keeping with opposition politics.
However, he said, the meeting was given a commitment that Jamaica was fully on board.
Foreign Policy Co-ordination in CARICOM is high on the agenda of the Conference of Heads of Government, with leaders examining the thrust of the Community’s Foreign Policy approach given the on-going changes in global political and economic circumstances.
“These changes pose challenges to the continuing development of the Community as well as for the practice of the Community’s external and political relations. However, they also create opportunities that can be exploited to the benefit of the Community,” a statement from the CARICOM Secretariat said.
The on-going reform process in the Community will be up for discussion as will developments in Haiti and matters in relation to youth development in particular arising out of the recent high level meeting between the youth of CARICOM and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
The three day meeting of the leaders will be presided over by CARICOM Chairman Dr Kenny Anthony, Prime Minister of St Lucia and it is expected that with the exception of the Prime Minister of Belize, all Heads of Government will be present.