Above: Trinidad PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar in Panama
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Trinidad and Tobago and Panama signed a partial scope trade agreement on Thursday.
Foreign Minister Winston Dookeran and Commerce and Industry Minister Ricardo Quijano Jimenez signed on behalf of Trinidad and Tobago and Panama, respectively.
The agreement was signed in the presence of Panama President Ricardo Martinelli and Trinidad Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. The latter is in Panama attending the Americas Competitiveness Forum.
The agreement comes after talks that concluded in June 2011; the agreement subsequently had to be approved by Trinidad’s Cabinet, vetted by the Attorney General and ratified by the CARICOM Secretariat.
The agreement provides “the preferential treatment that exporters from Trinidad and Tobago will enjoy in the Panamanian market and the reciprocal preferential treatment that Panamanian exporters will receive in the Trinidad and Tobago market,” according to a statement from the government of Trinidad.
As it applies to Trinidad, there will be an immediate tariff elimination in a number of “important” manufactured products, along with other tariff reductions, the government said.
For Panama, the agreement will offer a 100 percent preferential rate for 40 percent of the tariff lines; some of the products that will benefit from the rate will include live animals for breeding, fresh and chilled meat and fish, eggs, wheat, salt, pepper and others.
In a statement, the government said the signing of the agreement honoured its “commitment to south/south cooperation and to the developmental agenda through the increase in trading opportunities for our private sector.”