Three weeks ago, Dookeran successfully piloted another trade pact with the Republic of Guatemala, the second in less than two years. On October 4, 2013, he signed a similar trade agreement with another Central American country — Panama.
The process leading to the culmination and signing of the Partial Scope Trade Agreement (PSTA) with Guatemala, began on April 11 2012. Its completion took four rounds of negotiations, two in Port-of-Spain and two in Guatemala City. Minister Dookeran signed on behalf of Trinidad and Tobago while His Excellency Carlos Raul Morales Moscoso signed for Guatemala at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 06 2015.
“The Agreement seeks to promote the harmonious development of the economic relations between the two countries through the expansion of trade in goods and services,” stated a media release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “It is anticipated that this will contribute to the removal of barriers to trade and enhance the development and expansion of trade,” the release added.
In October 2013, when Minister Dookeran signed the PSTA with Panama, he explained that while it was a trade agreement, which is aimed at promoting the expansion of trade in goods and services between the two countries, he said the pact must also be recognised as Caribbean Convergence in action, a philosophy which is a Dookeran dream.
The Partial Scope Trade Agreement would mean for Trinidad and Tobago the creation of new trade and investment opportunities with the resultant increase in employment and foreign exchange earnings which will contribute to TT’s well-being. The new agreement means hundreds of products from local manufacturers would be allowed to enter Guatemala at preferential rates and a similar number of Guatemala products to become available on the Trinidad and Tobago market.
Signing of the agreement signifies that both countries have recognised the need to expand their domestic market through economic integration, which is a vital prerequisite for accelerating their processes for economic development, while at the same time, driven by the desire to promote mutually beneficial bilateral trade in goods and services.
Dookeran ensured that stakeholders were involved in the process by holding consultations with several business groups including the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) and the American Chamber of Commerce. Also taking part in the discussions were the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Investment and Communications, The Ministry of Food Production, the Ministry of Finance and the Economy, the Ministry of the Attorney General together with government agencies/departments such as the Customs and Excise Division, ExporTT and the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards.