Trinidad and Tobago Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee Scoon has expressed disappointment in trade was being used as a measure to discuss immigration issues involving Jamaica following the decision of Port of Spain to deport several Jamaican nationals earlier this year.
On Friday, Gopee Scoon confirmed that at least one major exporter of food and beverage had its goods taken off the shelves in Kingston and others had been told “we are not buying from you at this time”.
But the Trade and Industry Minister, speaking on a radio in Trinidad said she would not use the word “boycott” to describe the situation.
I don’t think there are any trade issues on the table at all. I have used the word disappointment because I don’t think we should have been using trade…as a retaliatory measure against another matter so therein lies my disappointment,” she said noting that her concerns had to be the export out of Trinidad and Tobago.
She insisted that the two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries “are excellent trading partners.…(and) we do exchange a lot of goods and services”
Gopee Scoon and her Jamaica counterpart Karl Samuda discussed the immigration issue during the42nd Regular Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) and the 61st Special COTED Meeting of Trade and Energy Ministers in Guyana last week..
According to a statement issued by Samuda’s ministry last week, Gopee Scoon gave credit to Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affair and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson-Smith, for her proactive engagement with her Trinidad and Tobago counterpart Dennis Moses.
The statement quoted Gopee Scoon as indicating that both ministers have been in almost daily communication in order to ensure a mutually satisfactory resolution to the issue.
Samuda is reported as telling the COTED meetings that all nationals had the right to be treated with dignity, befitting citizens of a common community.
Last month, Port of Spain deported at least 12 Jamaican nationals claiming that their stay here would have cost the State significantly and a former national security minister Gary Griffith brushed aside a call by an opposition legislator in Jamaica for the government to take the matter before the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Gopee Scoon said that there has been intervention “at all angles” in a bid to end the so-called boycott and that talks are taking place with the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA) and other stakeholders.