Trinidad and Tobago, Chile to expand bilateral trade

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Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, from left, Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne, and Chilean Ambassador Juan Anibal Barria Garcia, at the signing of the general framework for the partial scope trade agreement between the Trinidad and Tobago and Chile at the Foreign and Caricom Affairs Ministry, Port of Spain on October 20, 2020. File photo/Roger Jacob
Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, from left, Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne, and Chilean Ambassador Juan Anibal Barria Garcia, at the signing of the general framework for the partial scope trade agreement between the Trinidad and Tobago and Chile at the Foreign and Caricom Affairs Ministry, Port of Spain on October 20, 2020. File photo/Roger Jacob

The first round of negotiations for the partial scope trade agreement between Trinidad and Tobago (TT) and Chile started on Tuesday.

The negotiations will seek to deepen bilateral trade relations between the two countries after the signing of the general framework agreement in October last year, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a release.

At the opening ceremony of the negotiations on Tuesday, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said she anticipated the partial-scope trade agreement will provide new market opportunities for TT’s manufactured goods.

“The agreement will also support TT’s trade policy, which has identified the Central and South American markets for expansion of exports. We hope to not only be able to export our manufactured goods at preferential rates to Chile, but to also seek inputs into production at competitive prices.

“The private sector of TT has expressed a keen interest in this arrangement and is eager for its fruition.”

A partial-scope agreement will allow this country’s exports to enter the Chilean market at preferential rates of duties, the release said.

Additionally, imports of selected inputs into manufacturing and consumer goods will have reduced duty.

The agreement will also seek to eliminate non-tariff barriers and “foster co-operation between the countries in mutual areas of interest, including trade facilitation and electronic trade.”

In 2020, TT exports to Chile were estimated at $333.5 million and were primarily dominated by energy products such as ammonia, liquefied natural gas and urea. The release said the trade ministry anticipates this agreement would assist with diversifying TTs export base to Chile toward the non-energy sector and also increase export values.

At the sod-turning ceremony for the new Desperadoes pan theatre on Tuesday, the Prime Minister also affirmed the need to diversify TT’s economy and minimise the country’s reliance on oil and gas revenues.

The release said Chile’s Vice Minister for Trade Rodrigo Yañez said Chile is committed to “furthering the negotiations and strengthening bilateral trade with the Caribbean and in particular TT.”

The first round of negotiations was due to conclude on Thursday and include discussions related to market access, rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, trade facilitation, trade remedies, competition policy and legal and institutional issues.

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