The president of the St Lucia Manufacturers Association (SMA), Paula Calderon, has accused Trinidad and Tobago of barring products from entering the country.
During a question-and-answer segment of the recently held Caribbean Export colloquium at the Hilton Barbados, Calderon pleaded with the chief executive officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA), Ramesh Ramdeen, to help remove the barriers.
“I want to let you know that they are putting up all trade barriers to prevent us from exporting our products to Trinidad and Tobago,” she said, though not giving details on what products were being barred or exactly what the impediments were.
“We are not working together… We need to make sure that our small companies can survive in the region otherwise we are going to have some serious problems,” added Calderon.
In responding, Ramdeen promised he would do what he could to ensure there was ease for the products out of St Lucia.
“With St Lucia, unfortunately there are no great synergies between the St Lucia Manufacturers Association and that of Trinidad…if you have issues coming into Trinidad and Tobago I can tell you that I can try and figure out what the problems are and if the problems are such that we can interject and solve them then we will work assiduously to solve the problems you have. I give you that guarantee,” said Ramdeen.
This was not the first time that Port-of-Spain has been accused of unfair trading practices.
Last year the Banks Holdings Ltd (BHL) accused Trinidad of deliberately blocking Pine Hill Dairy milk and juice products over an 18-month-long labelling dispute. But one month later managing director and chief executive officer of BHL Richard Cozier said most of the difficulties were resolved in a two-hour meeting in Port-of-Spain.
Jamaica had also accused T&T of imposing unfair trading practices and non-tariff barriers against the export of Jamaican patties.
In the case of Jamaica, the two countries set up a “trade desk” at the TTMA and since then—over the past six months—“the relationship with Jamaica and Trinidad has improved considerably,” said Ramdeen.