Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 24th 2014 Contents BG4 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt APRIL 2014 • WEEK FOUR
between T&T and
Colombia is not easy, says
Alfonso Múnera, secretary
general of the Association
of American States (ACS).
He related a personal experience to explain
"It is not easy to transport cargo. Just trying
to get something from Cartagena in Colombia
to Trinidad is extremely difficult. The require-
ments are so complicated and I experienced
that while trying to bring cargo from that
Colombian city to T&T. It took more than one
month to bring it here. Then it was difficult
to get a company to do it. We must do some-
thing to facilitate maritime communication."
Múnera said issues of transport routes to
make trade and business easier across the
Caribbean islands and Latin America are
among some of the topics to be discussed at
the ACS Summit at the end of April.
"If people do more business across
Caribbean countries like T&T, then it results
in more employment, which goes directly in
solving one of our big social problems in Latin
America and the Caribbean. If we start to
open the relationship between Latin America
and the Caribbean islands, then we have move
to the next stage of joint investment and busi-
ness," he told the Business Guardian last Thurs-
The Sixth Summit of the ACS will take place
in Mérida, Mexico, on April 28-30. Member
states will also celebrate the 20th anniversary
of the founding of the ACS.
Múnera said Mexico---which is a member
state of the ACS---will spend roughly US$10
million to fund four ACS projects that broadly
fall under the umbrella of trade and disaster
One of the projects is interconnectivity for
improved trade facilitation and short distance
maritime transport in the Caribbean.
"This project is working on short distance
maritime transport. We want to improve the
connectivity as this is one of the biggest prob-
lems in the Caribbean, which is air and sea
transport. If we want to improve trade, we
need to facilitate the ongoing transportation
of cargo and goods."
The other project is the international transit
of goods in the Caribbean.
"This is basically to work on the harmon-
isation of the customs system. One of the
problems we have is the disparity of customs
systems which, many times, is an obstacle in
the transit of goods in the region. Two weeks
ago, we met in Panama where we had four
workshops and invited about 100 experts from
the Caribbean. There were experts from
Trinidad's ports and other countries in the
region trying to find solutions," Múnera said.
He said the major reason for these projects
is to better improve the air and sea movement
between T&T and Venezuela and Jamaica and
Colombia and other areas of Latin America.
"There must be ways to send goods cheaper
and more efficiently among the countries in
the region. If you want to trade between the
Dominican Republic and Jamaica, how do you
make this cheaper? How to reduce time to do
business? We need to find new ways and solu-
tions to these," he said.
Múnera spoke about talks between Colom-
bian airline Avianca Taca and Caribbean Air-
"We started dialogue between these airlines
with the aim of direct flights from Central
America to Trinidad, from Bogota to Port-of-
Spain. Of course, these airlines want to be
sure they do not lose money. The ACS is still
promoting dialogue," he said.
Múnera said the spin-off effect of more
flight routes is more business and tourism and
greater investment in the region.
He described investment and business in
Latin America as dynamic.
"You see Colombians investing in Panama,
Costa Rica, in Chile. You will see Mexico
investing money Colombia, in Panama, in
Costa Rica. You will see Chile investing money
in Colombia. This is amazing. Look at how
open and dynamic Brazil and the rest of Latin
America are. We are talking about the
Caribbean islands, knowing investment oppor-
tunities there," he said.
Múnera, who is Colombian, was interviewed
at the ACS's office in St Clair.
He added that during the summit, there
will be a specific meeting on entrepreneurship
with representatives from T&T and the other
Caribbean member states of the ACS.
"Mexico is inviting a representative from
the T&T Ministry of Trade who deals with
The Fifth Summit of the Association of Caribbean States, which took place in Haiti on April 23-26, 2013. INSET: ALFONSO MÚNERA, secretary general, ACS.
Continued on Page 5
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