RELATIONS between Barbados and Trinidad gone BAD *LINK*
Posted By: aBajan
Date: 10, February 04, at 2:56 p.m.
Tough Talk - Tuesday 10, February-2004
By Neville Clarke
RELATIONS between Barbados and Trinidad took a turn for the worse yesterday, as Prime Minister Owen Arthur announced that with immediate effect, Trinidadian goods entering Barbados will be treated on the same terms being extended to Barbadian fishermen found in Trinidad and Tobago waters.
He issued this stern warning following the arrest last Friday of two Barbadian fishermen in that country’s waters.
According to Arthur, Cabinet had agreed that: “With immediate effect, Barbados will accord to Trinidad goods imported into our economic space, the same terms and conditions the Trinidad authorities are extending to our fishermen in Trinidad and Tobago’s economic space.”
He declined, however, to go into details on the action to be taken, but said the specifics would be outlined later this week.
The Prime Minister, who had just emerged from an emergency Cabinet meeting at Ilaro Court which dealt with the fishing impasse, was addressing a private sector luncheon at Sherbourne Conference Centre on Two Mile Hill, St Michael.
Expressing grave concern over the arrests at a time when his Government was still expressing an interest in continuing fishing agreement negotiations between the two countries, Arthur said: “The time for telegrams and anger has passed. We believe in matters of economy about the creation of a single economic space.
“This single economic space will be available in equal facility to Trinidad manufacturers who are competing with Barbadian manufacturers, however small, and to Barbadian fishing folks on no less equal terms than those enjoyed by any other extra-regional entity in this our Caribbean Sea.
“My Cabinet has soberly reflected on this matter. We shall continue to honour our obligations to fast-track Barbados’ compliance with dealing on single market and economy terms by 2004,” he said.
The Prime Minister sought to make it clear that Bridgetown was not engaging in any idle threat, adding that any actions taken by his Government should not be interpreted as any tit-for-tat with Port-of-Spain.
In calling for the private sector’s support in the move, Arthur said Trinidadian investors have been allowed unfettered ownership of lands and indigenous enterprises in Barbados.
“Trinidadian nationals already own some of our best lands; they own significant parts of our tourism enterprise, but we don’t own any tourism enterprises in Trinidad and Tobago; they own a substantial part of our distribution sector; they own substantial parts of our manufacturing industry and last year this Government agreed that a state-owned commercial bank should enter a strategic alliance with a Trinidadian enterprise.”
In contrast, he said, Barbadian fishermen have been subjected to arrest in Trinidad and he further complained that Trinidad was allowing Taiwanese fishing vessels to exploit its marine environment that it now says cannot be accessed by Barbados.
And he also said: “Barbados will not so define our national interests that we will remain prostrate where the government of Trinidad and Tobago, in defiance of international law, takes advantage of ordinary citizens of this country.”
This latest move by his Administration was not “a threat, it is a promise,” the Prime Minister stated.\es 4 & 5.
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