T & T PM urges partnerships

KINGSTON, Jamaica: Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, has called on the Jamaican business community to intensify its partnerships with businesses in other CARICOM states.

Speaking at the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) “Meet the Prime Ministers” luncheon held in her honour in Kingston last week, Persad-Bissessar said this was needed to ensure that CARICOM member states collectively reap optimal benefits from the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).

“Jamaica is one of our main trading partners and senior fellow member of state of CARICOM and, therefore, it is essential to speak with you on issues which are pertinent to the development of the economies of Jamaica and of Trinidad and Tobago,” said Persad-Bissessar.

She said one of the immediate tasks that both countries need to address was the cushioning of international pressures on their economies, as their manufacturing sectors have not been immune to the impact of the financial crisis.

“The challenge now facing our companies is to introduce new processes and increase investments, and to engage in such activities as are necessary to ensure that businesses will be in even better shape to overtake their competitors, when the global economic climate improves.”

Persad-Bissessar said one of the realities that businesses in operation in 2010 and beyond must face is the global nature of markets.

“Competition is a fact of life and knows no geographical boundaries,” she said. “I think this fact is quite known in your business community, and the real challenge lies in the response we make.”

The Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister said the implementation of protective measures, at a national or regional level, would not help the region’s cause, unless such action is targeted in the context of a well thought-out development strategy for the medium to longer term period.

“In the case of the manufacturers in (Trinidad and Tobago) they have their own challenges, as they struggle with the issue of competitiveness. The relative competitive edge, demonstrated over some other regional producers, certainly cannot be attributed solely to the utilization of the benefits associated with oil and natural gas,” said Persad-Bissessar.

Persad-Bissessar also noted that over the last two decades the region has negotiated a number of trade agreements, including with the European Union (EU). She advised that it was time that CARICOM ensure that its business community rise to overcome the challenges preventing them from making use of some of these agreements.

“As we strive for an expanded market space, it is necessary that we look in those arrangements, which our exporters have utilized over the years to bear significant business relationships, and ensure that our negotiations obtain development support provisions geared to improving our supply capacity,” said Persad-Bissessar.

Supported by the JCC, the “Meet the Prime Ministers” series provides an opportunity for business leaders and professionals to interface with Prime Ministers of the region, on critical social, political and economic matters affecting the Caribbean economies and community. (JIS)

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