The JMA is up in arms with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago over what is being termed as the unfair competition that exist between Jamaica and Trinidad.
The current trade imbalance between Jamaica and Trinidad is in the region of US$1.8B in favour of Trinidad and Jamaica Manufacturers Association wants that to change and in a hurry.
I would however (as usual) like to take a completely different look at the situation that exists between Jamaica and Trinidad. Everyone by now would know that Trinidad has oil and as such as one of the lowest if not the lowest energy cost in the entire region.
The JMA has insisted that this subsidy of low energy cost at US$0.06 per kwh vs Jamaica’s approx US$0.35 per kwh creates and unfair advantage to Trinidad in terms of the cost to manufacturer goods and services. In addition to that, goods manufactured in Trinidad has duty free access to the Jamaican market, which is the largest in the region, making it very difficult for Jamaica to compete with goods made in Trinidad.
(Note, The low price of electricity is enjoyed by all residents of Trinidad and Tobago and as such, is really not a special incentive to its manufacturer’s)
Having gone through all the above, what is so wrong with what the Trinidadians are doing, I don’t get it. When we elect a government, what’s our expectation from that government?
- Don’t we expect the government to create policies and a business friendly environment , which allows local business to thrive?
- Don’t we expect the government to create the economic environment that allows for growth and job creation for its people?
- Don’t we expect the government to create the environment that allows the citizens of the country to enjoy the benefits of the resources of the country?
- Don’t we expect the government to create the environment that allows local business to be as efficient as possible and dominate its trading partners in terms of competitiveness?
Now having reviewed items 1 –4 above, can someone really tell me what’s so wrong with what the Trinidadians are doing?
If Jamaica were Trinidad would we not expect our government to do exactly what the Trinidadians are doing today .
The government of and Tobago is doing exactly what successive Jamaican governments have failed to do over the last 50 yrs and now having seen the results of our failures we are jealous of the success of the Trinidadians.
I will close by saying, if Jamaica were to exchange places with Trinidad, and one checks us after 50 yrs, they would finds us right back where we are today for the simple reason that we really have no interest in the welfare of the people of this country. Oil would not benefit Jamaica and Jamaicans as much as it has done in Trinidad, instead I predict we would become more like Nigeria, where the wealth from oil would have been concentrated in the hands of the few and we would be as corrupt as Nigeria is today. We share so much in common with Nigeria and so it’s not a far stretch to become like they are given where we find ourselves today.
I say back off Trinidad and instead look at what they have done to make them a success then try to replicate that here in Jamaica by utilizing the natural resources of the country.