Deputy Prime Minister Voices Concerns Over Free Trade Agreement with Canada

Jamaica Information Service | Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Deputy Prime Minister Voices Concerns Over Free Trade Agreement with Canada

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. 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, Hon Beverley Oda on Monday, March 23, in Ottawa, Canada, Dr. 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 a development component was included.

"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 Dr. Baugh.

He told Minister Oda that the transfer of technologies from Canada to Jamaica would assist Jamaica in building capacities for processing, marketing, sorting, grading and packaging foods.

Minister Oda, whose portfolio also includes the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), assured Minister 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."

Expressing appreciation to CIDA and the Canadian government for their assistance, not only to Jamaica, but also the wider Caribbean, Dr. Baugh said CIDA has 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".

Dr. Baugh is in Canada on a four-day visit from March 23 to 26. He is accompanied by Ambassador Paul Harker, Director for Bilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and Her Excellency Evadne Coye, Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada.

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source: JIS