This can result in lower cost and perhaps better health.
The Turks and Caicos Islands import almost everything from the United States of America. There is nothing wrong with that, but I believe we should explore importing more from the Caribbean and South America.
Do you know some of the products that we import from America are originally from some parts of the Caribbean and South America? Therefore, wouldn’t it better if we trade directly with some of these countries. In so doing, it will reduce costs and help us financially. Likewise, we will also the Region economically and socially by trading with them.
Over the weekend, I was in Guyana for a funeral of a close friend of our family. Guyana has a lot of resources that we can used and so this prompted me to write this article. I believed I have mentioned about trading with the Caribbean in a previous article but my trip to Guyana has confirmed the need to do so. Below, I have summarized the main exports from four countries in the region namely, Guyana, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Haiti. Of course, there are other countries in the Region that can and do provide exports to other countries.
Guyana’s main exports are minerals fuels including oil, railroads and streetcars, gems and precious metals, cereals, ships and boats, ores, slags and ash, fish, beverages, spirts and vinegars, wood, and pharmaceuticals.
The USA is Guyana’s largest trading partner. Guyana is also the largest trading partner with the UK in the Caribbean and South America.
Jamaica’s main exports are bauxite, ethanol, cane sugar, alcoholic beverages, coffee, scrap metal, cyclic compounds and manioc, vegetables, iron, steel, fruits, cereal, milk preparations.
DR exports are medical instruments, cigars, jewelry, circuits breakers, footwear, cotton clothing, medicines, and pharmaceutical products.
Haiti’s main exports are “clothing, scrap metal, vegetable oils, dates, cocoa, apparel, oil, coffee, mangoes, knit t-shirts, knit sweaters, knit women’s suits, and non-kit men’s shirts.
Quality of products
I know there may be some concerns about the quality of products coming from the Region, however, as I said in the introduction, the USA and UK are some of the largest trading partners with some of these Caribbean and South American Countries.
If the USA and UK can import from the region then why can’t the rest of the Caribbean do so. In America, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is an agency that regulates and supervises the safety of food. Therefore, some may argue that the food coming from America is safer. However, there are similar agencies in the Caribbean Region that also do the same. For instance, in Jamaica, there is a Foods and Drug Act of 1964 that comes under the Ministry of Health. In the Dominican Republic, the regulation of food is covered by CEDIRE, Ministry of Agriculture, INDOCAL and Ministry of Public Health.
Despite the fact there are agencies, from time to time, there will be some issues as nothing is perfect. I know for fact that we have experienced some issues with some of the products that we get from the USA despite them being inspected and regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Furthermore, the inhabitants of these countries consume the products that their own country produces, and they are fine. Their products are authentic with no additives.
While we do not have any major sea transportation between the Turks and Caicos and the Caribbean, it does not mean we cannot start from somewhere. Part of the reason is due to the lack of capacity. However, if we increase our trade relations and start ordering more from the Caribbean, then we can increase the demand which in turn will fuel the need for major sea transportation.
If the US is buying from the Caribbean, wouldn’t it be more economical if we go directly to the sources in the Caribbean too. When the suppliers in the US purchase from the Caribbean and South America, they must make a profit. We can cut out the middleman and that will help us to reduce our cost.
Do you have wondered why the cost of some products is high even though they are duty free? Maybe it is because we are not ordering directly from the main sources in the Caribbean and South American.
I know the Government of the Turks and Caicos and Jamaica were in talks about trading, but I am not sure if anything materialized. I also know a Chamber of Commerce was set up for Dominican Republic in TCI. Again, I don’t know what progress has taken place.
Another concern is that we do not know why so many of us are getting sick. Maybe it is due to the food we eat. If we can get some of these organic products from the Caribbean and South American, then maybe it can improve our health too. Of course, we always encourage our residents to do their farming but in the meantime as our country continues to grow, there is a need for more products that we will not be able to supply locally so let us indeed explore the Caribbean and South America.