Jamaica worried about CARICOM-Canada free trade deal

KINGSTON, Jamaica, March 27, 2009 – Jamaica’s deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr Kenneth Baugh, has expressed concerns about the impact of the upcoming Caribbean Community (CARICOM)-Canada free trade agreement.

Speaking with Canada’s Minister of International Cooperation Beverley Oda last week in Ottawa, Minister Baugh noted that Jamaica would be inundated with Canadian products as a result of the trade deal.

He said an impact analysis showed that opening up trade with Canada would be detrimental to the island unless a development component is 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,” Baugh is quoted as saying in a statement from the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).

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

In response, the Canadian Minister, whose portfolio also includes the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), assured Dr Baugh of her country’s commitment to the 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,” she said.

Dr Baugh’s trip to Canada ended yesterday.