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Government should lead fight against T&T trade advantages

Published:Thursday | May 17, 2012 | 12:00 AM

The Private Sector Working Group (PSWG) says Jamaican manufacturers must be part of the fight to address some of the perceived advantages enjoyed by their counterparts in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T).

However, PSWG Chairman Joseph M. Matalon also believes that the Jamaican Government should be leading the charge, given its role in renegotiating the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which governs the movement of goods and services in the region.

"Of course, the manufacturers need to be a part of the fight, but we are talking about a government-to-government treaty arrangement," reasoned Matalon, who is also president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica .

Matalon was speaking during a Gleaner Editors' Forum held at the newspaper's central Kingston offices yesterday.

His comments came days after the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) was publicly criticised for suggesting that local manufacturers should stop complaining about the perceived advantages enjoyed by their T&T counterparts and seek redress at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

JCC President Milton Samuda has conceded that he believes the manufacturers have a grouse, but maintains that they have failed to provide actual examples of these perceived advantages.

Samuda said he was also at a loss as to why they were reluctant to fight their cause through the mechanisms available at the regional level.

However, the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA), one of the groups that criticised the JCC, admitted it was aware of the legal options through the CCJ, but said it was seeking to have the issues resolved at the government level.

Speaking during yesterday's forum, businessman Chris Bicknell agreed with the JMA's approach, pointing out that they were not signatories to the treaty.

"It's the Government that signed that document and the manufacturers and everyone else have to follow it," he emphasised