Bartlett Expresses Disappointment at Failed CARICOM/CANADA Negotiations

Release Date: 
Saturday, May 16, 2015 - 16:00

Opposition Spokesman on Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade, Mr. Edmund Bartlett, is expressing disappointment at the failed Free-Trade Agreement negotiations between CARICOM and Canada which, he says, could have paved the way for significantly enhanced trade and investment flows, especially as it relates to trade-in-services.

Mr. Bartlett said: “It is extremely disappointing that the negotiations between CARICOM and Canada have not culminated in a successful agreement, as this could have opened up tremendous opportunities for Jamaica. In an age where the fortunes of a country are heavily dependent on agreements it is able to secure and advantages it is able to leverage, CARICOM has missed out on a huge opportunity.”

The Opposition Spokesman said: “The existing Carib-Can Agreement is not sufficient to secure Jamaica’s full access to the Canadian market, as that agreement is centred around trade in goods, but does not treat with trade-in-services. It is important to note that Canada is likely to secure a waiver from the WTO to continue the non-reciprocal arrangements now embodied in the Carib-Can Agreement, but this does not advance our cause much as the emphasis atb this time must be on services.”

He continued: “The changing geo-economic landscape and Jamaica’s strategic interests in terms of the growth agenda suggest that we establish a mechanism for unlocking our potential in logistics, tourism services, business-process outsourcing, the creative industries and the knowledge economy. This is what a free-trade agreement with Canada would help to secure and since the CARICOM-related negotiations have failed, Jamaica must now consider and explore the possibilities of securing an agreement with Canada on its own. ”

Mr. Bartlett said in closing: “While we recognize the interest-driven nature of negotiations and the emphasis placed on securing outcomes that are acceptable to the parties involved, it is counter-productive for CARICOM to have had the entire negotiation fall apart because favour was not found with a particular aspect of the potential agreement. What CARICOM should recognize is that a free-trade agreement with Canada is of far greater value to CARICOM than it is to Canada. In addition to that, CARICOM must be mindful of the adverse impact the failed negotiation will have in the eyes of those looking on, including potential investors and other prospective multi-lateral partners, as questions will be raised about our ability to secure game-changing agreements."

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