Concern over CARICOM trade pact with Canada

Published: Thursday | March 26, 2009


OTTAWA, Canada:

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr Kenneth Baugh, has expressed concerns about the upcoming free trade agreement to be signed between Canada and CARICOM.

Speaking with Canada's Minister of International Cooperation, Beverley Oda, on Monday in Ottawa, Baugh noted that Jamaica would be inundated with Canadian products as a result of the trade agreement.

The deputy prime minister said an impact analysis showed that opening up trade with Canada would be detrimental to Jamaica, unless there was a development component.

Free-trade agreements

"We are small countries and we have to be careful how we enter into free-trade agreements. What would make a big difference is technology transfer," said Baugh.

He told Oda that the transfer of technologies from Canada to Jamaica would assist the island in building capa-cities for pro-cessing, mar-keting, sorting, grading and packaging foods.

Oda, whose portfolio also includes the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), assured Baugh of Canada's commitment to the Caribbean region.

"We are looking at what vehicles and structures to implement in order to build capacity in the region. Our challenge is to do what's best for the region and what's best for the countries, understanding that we cannot do everything for every country."

Very helpful

Expressing appreciation to CIDA and the Canadian government for their assistance, Baugh said the agency had been very helpful to Jamaica in education, health and the reform of the justice system.

The deputy prime minister added: "Thanks also for the work you have been doing with Haiti. As a close neighbour, what happens in Haiti has affected us over the years and that's why we'll be opening a mission there soon."

Baugh ends his four-day visit to Canada today.