Investment invitation to Panama
ANDRE BAGOO Friday, October 4 2013
PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday knocked on the doors of Panama’s business sector, issuing an invitation for investment in Trinidad and Tobago.
“I look forward to welcoming you to Port -of -Spain,” Persad-Bissesar said, addressing the opening of the Americas Competitiveness Forum at the Hotel Westin, Playa Bonita, Panama City, Panama. “I want to take this opportunity to tell you that our twin-island Republic is also an untapped treasure trove of business opportunities, the engine of which is fuelled by sustained economic development.”
Persad-Bissessar continued, “My Government is committed to free enterprise, and doing everything that’s possible to facilitate business expansion by our indigenous entrepreneurs and the partnerships they develop with progressive businesses abroad.”
The Prime Minister’s remarks came as her Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Dookeran, formally signed a Partial Scope Trade Agreement which opens up the Panana market by establishing preferential treatment for local businessmen.
Dookeran signed the pact with Panama’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Ricardo Quijano Jimenez, in the presence of Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal and Persad-Bissessar in Panama City, Panama.
The negotiation of the agreement commenced in January, 2011 and was brought to a successful conclusion in June, 2011. Thereafter, the agreement had to be approved by the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago, positively vetted by the Attorney General and subsequently certified by the Caricom Secretariat, after receiving agreement from all Caricom member states.
The Partial Scope Trade Agreement, in addition to the text that governs its implementation, 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.
In the case of Trinidad and Tobago, there will be immediate tariff elimination in a number of important manufactured products, and also tariff reduction in a number of other areas.
In the case of Panama, 40 percent (120) of the tariff lines negotiated will receive a 100 percent preferential rate. Some of the products that will be benefited from said rate are: live animals for breeding, fresh and chilled meat, fresh and chilled fish, eggs, wheat, salt, pepper, among others.
Although Trinidad and Tobago has no accredited Ambassador to Panama, an Honorary Consul was appointed in 1996.
Trinidad and Tobago has consistently enjoyed a favourable balance of trade with Panama; in 2009 imports from Panama totalled $51 million and exports to Panama amounted to $317 million.
The exports for 2009 included traditional oil and gas products as well as canned sausages, aerated beverages, napkins and tanks of plastics.
In her address, the Prime Minister outlined the country’s plans in relation to education, ICT and the development of human capital.
Persad-Bissessar yesterday toured the Panama Canal, where new locks have been constructed to specifically accommodate Caribbean trade, and where new bunkers have been established both on the Caribbean Sea side, and the Pacific Ocean side. The Prime Minister is due back in Trinidad and Tobago today.