PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – President of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA) Greig Laughlin said Wednesday that business people cannot be held accountable for comments made by politicians after local manufactures complained that their exports to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) markets were facing a boycott.
Last month, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar sparked an outrage in some regional countries after she said that Port of Spain must benefit from aid to hurricane ravaged states.
The Prime Minister later claimed that her statements had been taken out of context, but there have been calls for a boycott of Trinidad and Tobago products, particularly in Jamaica.
Laughlin, speaking on a local radio station here said that a boycott would not be in the interest of any one.
“It is disappointing that there those out there with agendas and would continue to make calls like that because boycotting of any Caribbean goods no matter where it is made certainly doesn’t help any of us in any of our islands whatsoever.
“Because sadly if you boycott our goods for example in those islands who is going to pay for those people who are there distributing our goods. We employ many people in those islands and we pay many people there and the governments get taxes from those people as well.
“So boycotting does not help anyone and in fact it only hurts everyone,” he said.
Laughlin made it clear that manufacturers and local businesses “cannot always be held accountable for what our leaders or politicians might say and sadly …we are the ones who can be or will be affected when certain people say certain things.
“We are hoping that people are mature enough to know that we are not of that ilk (and) that we will certainly continue to provide our customers with the best prices, best products and like I said when the boycott idea came out on Facebook and everything we decided not to say anything at that time because we were busy trying to get help to the people in St. Vincent and the St. Lucia…”
Meanwhile, Philippe Agostini, the executive chairman of the oils producer, CGA Ltd, said he received complaints from his agent in Jamaica after the statements by the prime minister.
He told a function hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce that his agent in Jamaica–the Grace Kennedy company–told him supermarket customers were looking at product labels to see where they were manufactured.
According to him, if the products were made in Trinidad and Tobago, the consumers were boycotting them and buying an alternative brand.
CGA Ltd exports soaps, cooking oil and coconut oil to Jamaica and Agostini said the local manufacturer has not yet been able to decide on the financial losses suffered so far.