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St Lucia PM tells Jamaica: Take trade dispute with T&T to CCJ
CASTRIES—Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony says the issue of trade imbalances among Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries should be best addressed by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Anthony, the incoming Caricom chairman spoke ahead of the July 4-6 summit here amid calls by certain stakeholders in Jamaica for a review of the island’s relationship with the 15-member regional bloc.
The CCJ, established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court, also acts as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs Caricom. Jamaica’s Opposition spokesman on Transport and Works Carson Hodder has voiced concern over a massive trade imbalance between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, but Anthony said he is encouraged by recent statements from his Jamaican counterpart Portia Simpson-Miller re-affirming her country’s commitment to Caricom.
Jamaican manufacturers have long complained that their counterparts in Trinidad and Tobago enjoy unfair subsidies and Anthony said that there are several sides to what he described as “this very complex and sensitive issue.” He said that Port-of-Spain has benefited the most from Caricom largely because “it had the courage to restructure its economy, and because of its energy costs.
“Trinidad is able to extend real benefits to its manufacturing sector as a result of subsidised energy. This a very contentious matter and is the cause of some of the unequal competition between Trinidad and the other member states. “It is an issue that Trinidad has to face and grapple with, and one which is also translated in effect of airline operations,” he added.
He believes that these are issues that need to be dealt with at the level of the CCJ since they cannot be dealt with through policy responses. “The truth is that the Jamaica economy itself needs major restructuring to cope with the issues it has at hand for when economies are in trouble they seek to blame others.
“So there is a larger picture to it and as much as I understand and sympathise with Jamaica that it has to deal with this issue, the fact is, over the years manufacturing in Jamaica has contracted, not only because of rising costs, but because of global competition.
“On the other hand there is some unfairness where Trinidad is concerned, you know the usual problem: when the economy is doing well and you begin to make investments abroad you also attract criticism,” Anthony said, adding that “this is the problem now facing Trinidad and Tobago.”
He explained that the twin-island republic had moved boldly into the Eastern Caribbean and Jamaica and as a result has attracted the baggage of criticism. But Anthony acknowledged, for example, that Liat, the Antigua-based regional airline, has to pay market prices for fuel while the T&T national carrier, Caribbean Airlines, benefits from subsidies. Regional leaders open their 33rd summit here today.
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