Jamaica trade war over services brewing
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday, July 23, 2012 – Damion Crawford, minister of state for tourism and entertainment in Jamaica has taken to Parliament to condemn other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) governments for banning the entry of some Jamaican entertainers.
Calling some of the decisions to block entry by other CARICOM nations “arbitrary”, Minister Crawford suggested that Jamaica started to flex its muscle on enforcing treaty commitments on services not only goods.
“We police the blocking of patties, beer and other manufactured items while seemingly ignoring the enforcement of these treaties for services,” he lamented. “I wonder when was the last time we reviewed the content of some of the products we import from these same countries banning our service export.”
These comments from Crawford came recently as he made his contribution to the on-going Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.
In his submission, the minister urged his counterparts on both sides of the floor to take a firm stance against the arbitrary banning of Jamaican entertainers by countries within CARICOM, underscoring the need to ensure free movement for Jamaican entertainers including dancers, singers and other artists.
Terming it “a sore point currently being faced by our industry,” Crawford said: “we must stand against the arbitrary banning of our entertainers from performing on shows in some of these countries on the basis of lyrical content.”
However, the minister stressed that “this is in no way suggesting support for lewd and crude lyrics.”
He also emphasised his support for CARICOM the movement toward regionalisation, but reminded the House that Jamaica is a net exporter of services and therefore an increased effort should be placed on the protection of the service sectors.
The minister added that “one of the few ways Jamaica will benefit even from the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is through services in general and entertainment in particular.”