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Failed Free-Trade Agreement negotiations between Caricom, Canada disappointing — Bartlett

Jamaica Observer, Jamaica

Failed Free-Trade Agreement negotiations between Caricom, Canada disappointing — Bartlett

16 May 2015

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Opposition spokesman on Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade Edmund Bartlett is expressing disappointment at the failed Free-Trade Agreement negotiations between Caricom and Canada.

He said the agreement could have paved the way for significantly enhanced trade and investment flows, especially as it relates to trade-in-services.

“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,” Bartlett said.

He 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,” said Bartlett.

“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,” he added.

The Opposition spokesman said that while there is an interest-driven nature of negotiations and emphasis is 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.

He insisted that Caricom should recognise that a free-trade agreement with Canada is of far greater value to Caricom than it is to Canada.