Prime Minister Freundel Stuart as he addressed the media following the conclusion????of the Seventh Meeting of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on the CSME. (A. Gaskin/BGIS)??

Barbados intends to address the current trade imbalance that exists with Trinidad and Tobago.

This was made clear by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart at the conclusion of the Seventh Meeting of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). The meeting was held today at the Bay Gardens Hotel in Castries, St. Lucia.

Responding to questions from the media with respect to the issue of free and fair trade between the two CARICOM member states, Mr. Stuart pointed out that Trinidad and Tobago had massive investments in Barbados and, as a consequence, that country could not afford to have Barbadians feel that they are being "hard done by" in the relationship between the two countries. In light of this, he said Barbados had to "up our game a bit" and "be a little more vigilant, and ensure that we do not allow these things [the trade imbalance] to happen".

Asked whether he would raise the matter at the summit with Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, Mr. Stuart declared: "Well, I’m not going into the Heads [of Government] meeting to fight with anybody. I think there has been a recognition that errors were made, and from the information available to me, I think that has been acknowledged. And, therefore, I think what we have to do for the future is to prevent the recurrence of this kind of happening that just digs a grave for people’s faith in the CSME project."

He continued: "…it has happened and Barbados has interests which have to matter to the Prime Minister of Barbados. Trinidad has massive interests in Barbados and it cannot serve the interests of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago or it cannot serve Trinidad as a country to be rubbing Barbadians the wrong way.

"I made that clear already when we discussed the fishing challenges when I met with the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago late last year to discuss a protocol to deal with that. And, I will have to highlight that again that, you know, the relationship between Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago is an almost symbiotic one."

Turning his attention to the commitment of the government of Jamaica to the CSME, Mr. Stuart noted that administration was "on board" with the agreement.

"The Opposition party…may have made certain comments about Jamaica’s interests and that is as it should be in the context of opposition politics, but I can tell you what I heard in there from the Jamaican delegate this morning does not leave me with any impression that Jamaica is not committed wholly to the project. We all have our challenges in this effort and this is so with all integration movements.

"We disagree sometimes; but the important thing is not to be disagreeable. Things do not always work as we want them to. But, the statement read by the Jamaican delegate this morning on behalf of the Prime Minister of Jamaica left me quite satisfied that Jamaica, as an original signatory to the Treaty of Chaguaramas, is committed wholly to the regional integration movement."

The Heads of Government Conference begins today with??an opening ceremony commencing at 9:30 a.m.


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