Sun | Jun 24, 2018

On the Corner with EPOC | Target Trinidad - Nannyville resident sends message to Government

Published:Sunday | May 20, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines
Keith Duncan, co-chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), in discussion with residents of Nannyville during the latest Gleaner on the Corner with EPOC forum.
Antoinette ‘Carla’ Gayle
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Keith Duncan, co-chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), has been given a simple message to take to the Andrew Holness administration: "Target Trinidad".

The message was delivered to Duncan last Monday during the latest Gleaner on the Corner with EPOC forum held in the southeast St Andrew community of Nannyville Gardens.

Long-time resident of Nannyville, Antoinette Gayle, argued that it is time the Government addresses the trade deficit with the twin island republic, as Jamaicans living there and Trinidadians are clamouring for products out of Jamaica.

According to Gayle, she has several family members and friends living in Trinidad and visits there frequently.

"Whenever I visit I have to take for my family the cream crackers, tough crackers, the small round bun, the Easter bun and so on, because they can't get it to buy in the supermarkets," declared Gayle.

In contrast, the vocal small-shop operator noted that most of the snacks in her establishment are from Trinidad.

"Right now I have the plantain chips, tortillas, the peanut, all of them are from Trinidad, and yet still they are not taking much from us and a lot of Jamaicans are living there. Even our Jamaican white rum, I hardly see it on the shelves there, it's under the counter basically," said Gayle.

"It's not just our people who want to buy Jamaican stuff, the Trinis love it too. Anytime I take stuff up myself or send things they enjoy it. I remember one person in particular, he calls our Easter bun 'sweet bread' because it resembles a bread in terms of shape. So, him always say 'If I don't enjoy anything else, I enjoy the sweet bread that come from Jamaica'," added Gayle.

The small-business woman insisted that the Government should hold talks with the Trinidadian government to facilitate "fair trade".

"We're already taking a lot from them so, it's only right they do the same. It's a win-win situation because the demand for our products is there. I also have friends from school days who are in Trinidad, and if they go into the supermarket and see tough crackers, it's not staying on the shelves.

"So, the Government needs to revisit whatever the trade arrangement is with Trinidad to allow for our beloved products to go into their market. It would be a big boost for the economy. Big, big boost," declared Gayle.

For last year, Jamaica imported goods and services from Trinidad and Tobago valued at approximately US$299 million and exported goods and services valued at US$15.2 million, with some re-exports for a trade deficit of approximately US$282 million.