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T&T PM says visit to Jamaica was partly to stave off trade war

Published:Wednesday | July 20, 2016 | 7:46 PM
Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Keith Rowley engages Mikiela Gonzales, president of the Guild of Students at the University of the West Indies, Mona and other students after his address this afternoon - Rudolph Brown photo

Jovan Johnson, Staff Reporter

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has declared that his visit to Jamaica is partly to repel a "trade war" between the political and economic leaders of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

He was addressing stakeholders of the University of the West Indies (UWI) at the institution's regional headquarters in St Andrew, this afternoon.

"We are confident that we have it within our Caribbean region, within our universities, within our high schools and, hopefully, within our governments to do what has to be done to face down the challenges that come our way so it was easy for me to come to Jamaica to face down the challenge of trade war between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, it was easy," he said.

He admitted that there are issues relating to trade and immigration that must be addressed.

But he said Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago must accept their responsibility as leaders of CARICOM and demonstrate leadership in resolving the issues.

"We have to identify the challenges and work [them] out," he told the senior university officials in attendance.

Rowley says if leaders focus on implementing agreed policies, "the finger pointing and games playing will evaporate".

Jamaican businesses have complained about alleged unfair practices by Trinidad and Tobago and the negative implications for competition.

READ: No coordinated effort by PSOJ members to boycott T&T products

The relationship between Kingston and Port of Spain has also been strained by alleged mistreatment of Jamaicans by Trinidadian immigration authorities.

Rowley said those issues have to be resolved and his meetings with Jamaican sector leaders have been positive.

"All a wi a family," he declared to applause.

Yesterday, following a meeting, former Prime Minister Bruce Golding who heads Jamaica's CARICOM review commission told The Gleaner that both Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago had to get along for the good of the regional movement.

Regarding UWI, Rowley said the university must work hard to supply data to support decision-making throughout the region.

Rowley, who was appointed last year and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who became head of government in March, are to sign a cooperation agreement before his departure on Thursday.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com