KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday July 19, 2016 – They met. They talked. They’ll talk some more. And they expect to see some positive change.
The leaders of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago say now they’ve had discussions about issues of concern, including the treatment of Jamaican nationals who arrive at Piarco International Airport in Port of Spain, and the trade imbalances between the two CARICOM neighbours, they expect to see robust initiatives that will lead to increased co-operation, and the promotion of improved trade relations.
That was the assertion of Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who is hosting his Trinidadian counterpart, Dr. Keith Rowley, on an official four-day visit to the island.
He said their meeting yesterday has led to a deeper understanding of critical issues between the two countries.
The Trinidadian Prime Minister, in turn, declared the meeting a productive one, noting that a foundation has been laid for further discussion and work in other areas.
Follow-up discussions will be held throughout the rest of his official visit.
Ahead of their talks yesterday, Holness said the interactions between him and Rowley would facilitate “the sharing of information, experience and best practices for capacity building in our institutions, to better create growth and prosperity in a stable and secure environment.”
“Our meeting should lead to a clear way forward as we seek to build on the foundation of long-standing ties which have been shaped by our history, shared values, mutual respect and, importantly, our inter-connectedness,” he said.
Citing statistics which show that almost 13,000 Trinidad and Tobago nationals travelled to Jamaica in 2015 and over 15,000 Jamaicans visited the twin-island republic the same year, Holness noted that this is indicative of the long-standing bonds of friendship and co-operation between the nations.
“Notwithstanding the challenges, our people are moving between the islands, intermarrying, investing in and working for each other’s enterprises, studying, contributing, and being integral to the growth of their respective host countries, building regional societies for the greater good,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that both leaders must find ways to ensure that “this natural exchange and interconnectedness between our countries is hassle-free and facilitated by our respective regulatory bureaucracies.”
“In this regard, we are hoping to expand our trade relations to propel growth and development, given the mutual benefits to be derived. At the same time, we acknowledge that Jamaica also has a responsibility to address certain shortcomings including the need to find ways to bypass the hurdles to competitiveness and productivity while we engage on bilateral issues,” the Jamaican leader said.
Prime Minister Rowley stressed his country’s commitment “to treating with the challenges, whatever they might be,” noting that as members of CARICOM, Jamaica and Trinidad are family. We are one people with a common purpose, common history and cultural norms that we would defend for ourselves and for each other.”
“When I leave Jamaica, I would be satisfied if one acceptance would be made…that whatever the challenge is, we are stronger together, we are stronger as one unit and that there is no challenge in this family that we cannot overcome (by working together),” he said.