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Bharath: Social dialogue key to trade
Trade Minister Vasant Bharath said his ministry “has always been and will continue to be guided by the principles of social dialogue, good governance, inclusion and participation in decision making and will continue to exist by these codes of conduct.” He gave that assurance when he attended the first meeting of the Social Dialogue Task Force at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Bharath commended Labour Minister Errol Mc Leod for instituting a long awaited formal social dialogue process to “promote consensus building and democratic involvement among key stakeholders in the world of work or at the national level. “The ministry’s trade related institutions, such as invesTT, eTecK, exporTT and TTBS, among others, take consultation very seriously and aim to represent the views of many,” he said.
Bharath gave the example of invesTT which has been actively engaged in field work and interviews with local experts, opinion formers and perception shapers toward developing a country brand. “It is envisaged that through this structured pattern of seeking out the views of stakeholders a national identity will be developed; one that can be used consistently by all stakeholders in the promotion of services, exports, and investment offerings,” he said.
As the lead in negotiating trade agreements, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment ensures that the interests of all key stakeholders are incorporated throughout the process. Bharath said to date agreements, primarily for trade in goods, have been negotiated with Venezuela, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Costa Rica.
Bharath said: “In 2013, we completed two partial scope trade agreements with Panama and Guatemala and we have just begun new negotiations with El Salvador, all negotiated on behalf of and with the involvement of the business community.” The minister added that “through social dialogue, the ministry has partnered with stakeholders in the public sector, non-governmental and community-based organisations and in the private sector to influence and determine the direction and content of policies.
“The Ministry has developed a number of policies, namely the Foreign Used Car Policy and Procedures; the Scrap Metal Policy; the Yachting Policy and Strategic Plan; the Trade Policy and is currently working on completing the Investment Policy.”
Finance Minister Larry Howai underscored the importance of social dialogue in moving T&T’s economy forward. He challenged the Task Force Committee members to “improve the tripartite social dialogue process for good governance and for participatory decision making for the benefit of all.”