FOREIGN AFFAIRS and Foreign Trade Minister, K.D. Knight, met with a group of about 20 business people last week, as he began to construct a plan of action to deal with trade related issues.
The meeting, held at the Ministry's New Kingston of-fices, also formed part of pre-parations for the upcoming Caribbean Transnational Con-ference to be held in Jamaica early next year. Chief executive officers and foreign trade ministers will be brought together at the conference to identify and overcome obstacles in implementing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Concerns were raised by the business people during the meeting about the island's readiness for free trade, the setting up of the CSME and obstacles to dialogue between the Government and the private sector in hammering out trade issues.
Mr. Knight told the representatives that in keeping with the Government's new trade policy, he intended to facilitate the development of the capacity of local businesses to produce goods and services that made use of domestic capital. He added that in the current competitive environment, the private sector should be assisted to compete in the international arena.
"The next step is to ensure that feasible recommendations are acted on as soon as possible because time is not on our side where preparing for free trade is concerned," said the former National Security and Justice Minister, who took up the new portfolio on November 1, following a Cabinet reshuffle. A follow-up meeting between himself and the business people is set for later this month.