He said trading figures between Jamaica and Trinidad from January to April this year indicated that “while Jamaica imported $13.4 billion (in goods) from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica only exported $178.9 million to Trinidad, representing a mere 1.36 per cent of Trinidad’s exports to Jamaica. A further detailed analysis shows that of the $178 million, only $23 million was real goods produced in Jamaica.”
These figures Shaw said demonstrated a “most stark contrast” in the decline in Jamaica’s productivity and export competitiveness.
He said that in 1989, Jamaica ran a balanced trade account with CARICOM, including Trinidad and Tobago where the country purchased as many goods as was sold in the CARICOM market.
“No wonder we are treated with impunity and told there is a special area set aside to deport us overnight,” the minister quipped during his presentation.
He said when exports to Trinidad and Tobago are further analysed, Jamaica only exported a “paltry” J$23 million of “real goods” to Trinidad and Tobago for the period.
“So, Mr Speaker, apart from the J$23 million of real exports, we exported back to Trinidad and Tobago empty tanks — $117 millions dollar worth.
“You know what the empty tanks are, that is oil tanks that came down from Trinidad with oil and we export it back and they put a nominal value on it,” Shaw explained.
“We exported empty tanks back to Trinidad, so-so air in these empty tanks,” he said.
The finance minister said the figures paint a “picture of the seriousness of our situation”, which must be addressed.
Traditionally, imports from Trinidad and Tobago into Jamaica have far exceeded the value of exports sent to that island from Jamaica. The main exports sent to Trinidad from Jamaica, according to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, are chemicals and related materials, as well as food and beverages, while the main imports from Trinidad into Jamaica are mineral fuels, food, beverages and tobacco.
In 2008, the deficit between the nations was $1.4 billion. In 2015 it was recorded as $462 million.
In 15 years of trade between the islands since 2001, Jamaica has imported $10.52 billion in goods from Trinidad, while Jamaican exports to that country a totals a paltry $248.75 million in goods.
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