Holness, Rowley begin discussion on bilateral issues

JAMAICA’S Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday began private bilateral talks with his Trinidadian counterpart, Dr Keith Rowley, which could include the issue of the implementation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, told a brief meeting with the press at Jamaica House, yesterday, that the prime ministers explored views on the implementation of the CSME rules, including the movement of goods, services and people across the region under a common economy agreement.

She said that the leaders’ exploratory talks would ensure that both countries address existing trade issues, in discussions which would involve the private sector, as well.

“However, there is a lot more work to be done including further bilateral discussions on the issues,” Senator Johnson Smith admitted.

The CSME is the integrated development strategy, envisioned by Caribbean Community (Caricom) Heads of Government in July 1990 in Grenada, with the aim of deepening economic integration through a single market and economy.

This would also include widening the membership and expanding the economic mass of the Caribbean Community by including countries such as Suriname and Haiti, and culminate in a global trading and economic system, by strengthening trading links with non-traditional partners.

Both Johnson Smith and Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Senator Dennis Moses reported considerable movement in terms of mending fences created by the denial of entry of hundreds of Jamaicans into Trinidad and Tobago.

Moses said that the new facility being established at the Piarco Airport to improve conditions for detaining visitors, is to be completed within two weeks. He added that approximately 100 persons are being trained to man the facility. Training is to be completed this week.

“We have instituted mechanisms so as to allow for a respectful and proper system to be put in place, so that the turnaround of nationals of Jamaica, and nationals of other countries, will be a short one,” Moses said.

Johnson Smith said that the training being offered by the T&T government should substantially improve customer service at the airports and reduce the tension between nationals.

She said that the foundation was also laid for the implementation of the ruling in the Shanique Myrie case, and processes regarding community laws and how they rationalise with national laws.

Air and sea transport and energy issues were also discussed, Senator Johnson Smith said.

In terms of energy, she said that the parties agreed that technical matters will be addressed during the discussions here, as well as policy and political issues related to the “very complex” matter.

However, she said most advanced, at the moment, is dealing with the removal of the blockages which have caused visitors from other Caribbean countries, including Jamaica, to be held up in Port of Spain for long periods, to complete the special enquiry required before they are released by Trinidad’s immigration authority.

Prime Minister Holness says that a full disclosure from the talks will be given to the press on Thursday, prior to Prime Minister Rowley’s departure.

The T&T prime minister arrived in Kingston on Sunday on a four-day official visit.

Jamaica Observer