The current tension between Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago over trading matters and the treatment of some Jamaicans traveling to that CARICOM country is hardly a new phenomenon. Information available in RJR's arvhive reveal a long history of conflict over related issues.
Jamaican producers have for decades been complanining about unreasonable barriers to their products in Trinidad & Tobago while, according to them, Trinidadian manufactured products do not encounter similar restrictions in Jamaica.
In the current dispute arising from the sending back of 13 Jamaicans who were refused entry into Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaican manufacturers have highlighted the imbalance in trade between the two nations, to the huge advantage of the Trinidad & Tobago and have called for the hiring of Jamaican workers to make some of the products being exported to Jamaica. Otherwise, there's a threat of a sustained boycott of Trinidadian goods in Jamaica.
In an programme, hosted by RJR's Peter Walker in 1968, three of Jamaica's leading manufacturers, Aaron Matalon, Winston Mahfood and Charles Henderson Davis, expressed their frustrations with the trading situation existing between the two countries then, as Jamaica contemplated joining CARIFTA, the short-lived forerunner of CARICOM, the regional integration mechanism, established by the Treaty of Chaguaramas in 1973.
The panelists in that 1968 programme complained that Trinidad & Tobago had placed unfair restrictions on Jamaican textile imports, among other items.
"Unless Government will listen to us, we are going to be left with the predicament of hoping that something can be done in time when the full effects of lower priced imports come into our market with us being to compete. This is our fear, our predicament; not that we are opposed to CARIFTA per se; we accept it - slight modifications modifications we could suggest in there..." one of the panelists asserted.
The business leaders vowed, during that discussion, to stage public protests to press their case, if the Government did not heed their concerns.