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Wednesday 18 July 2018
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TT talks trade with Suriname

TALKS on trade, including a partial scope agreement with Chile and bilateral cooperation were among issues discussed between Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse yesterday, and Chilean President Michele Bachelet on Tuesday .

To this end Suriname will send a technical team to Trinidad and Tobago to further discuss these developments and work towards creating a business plan in a number areas of trade according to Rowley .

TT will also send a delegation to Suriname subsequently, Rowley said, “to further trade and prosperity between the two countries.” The Prime Minister is expected to return home today after attending the three-day 37th Regular Meeting of Caricom Heads of Government in Guyana .

Rowley will host a press conference at the VIP Lounge, Piarco International Airport today .

The bilaterals were held on the fringes of the 37th Regular Meeting and speaking with regional journalists yesterday at the Guyana Pegasus Hotel, Rowley said that during the meeting with Bouterse, they discussed a commitment to free trade among countries within Caricom .

“Suriname raised some issues about the difficulty in getting their products into the (TT) market while they remain wide open to our products in Suriname,” Rowley said .

The difficulty in accessing the TT market was due to non-tariff barriers in TT, he said, “and we have to examine that to ensure that we are not necessarily impeding trade between our countries .

“We have undertaken to ensure that the spirit of free trade between us is maintained.” They also discussed the possibility of cooperation and collaboration on the potential for hydro carbon development in Suriname, and TT lending its technical expertise in this area .

Discussions were also held on the potential for Suriname wood products to be processed in TT for the external market, Rowley said .

On his meeting with Bachelet, Rowley said that while TT has increased trade with Chile for TT petroleum and petroleum products in recent years, TT was keen to open to its markets for Chile products .

In this regard, he noted that both countries were working on a partial scope agreement .

“Hopefully that will allow us to expand our trade in areas which have the potential for growth between Chile and (TT)”, he said .

They also we discussed the role, he said, that Chile can play in furthering relations and bilateral cooperation between the Caribbean .

Asked if the setting up of a TT high commission in Barbados was to expand trade in Caricom, Rowley said, “it is part of an engagement with Caribbean and particularly with Caricom to maximise our growth and development in this whole quest to ensure that we do the best that we can as a unified region.” Asked about claims that TT was the only country in Caricom that benefits from the Single Market and Economy (SME) Rowley quipped, “that sounds like Brexit.” TT does not accept, he said, that it was the only country that benefits or that it was the super power of trade in Caricom .

“What we do accept,” he said, “is that at an earlier time TT made the sacrifices that were required to be made by our business community to retool themselves and to look outside TT for markets for their invesments.” He continued, “Those were painful decisions taken. There were a lot of cynics at the time it was done, but having made the sacrifice, TT has put itself in a position to manufacture and to trade.” TT will hold out that approach to the rest of their colleagues in Caricom, he said, and will continue to seek markets for its manufacturers .

“We will assist as far as possible in the recognition that the Caricom markets are our markets and we will assist and progress together in this area,” he said .

TT does not claim any extraordinary advantage without the sacrifices that are required to do so, he said .

“If we are talking about Caricom being a single market, and we are moving to free trade, movement of capital and goods,” he said, “We cannot be distracted by who is getting more and who is not getting .

We simply have to work on regimes of fairness and their institutions, not the least of which is the Caribbean Court f Justice.” On countries saying that getting what TT was getting and should leave Caricom, Rowley said, he would not encourage any member state to leave Caricom .

“What the leaders of the region has to do, is to lead by emphasising what good there is and removing the impediments to the challenges,” he said .

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