TRINIDAD and Tobago citizens with disabilities could be among the first to benefit from an improved relationship with South American neighbour Ecuador.
Talks of trade and exchange of technological support between the countries are continuing, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran said yesterday as he hosted his Ecuadorian counterpart, Ricardo Patina Aroco.
Dookeran spoke at a news conference at his ministry’s office in Tower C on the Port of Spain Waterfront.
Aroco and a delegation are currently in Trinidad, where major topics on the table include improved delivery to people with disabilities and renewed policies in dealing with multinational companies based in small countries in the region.
Dookeran said Aroco, who was on his second visit to Trinidad, has also been clear about the roles both countries should be playing on the global scale and in interacting with bodies like the United Nations.
Human rights, which also fall under Aroco’s portfolio, were part of that discussion.
Ecuador is a world leader in service delivery to challenged citizens and has offered advice and support to Trinidad and Tobago, as it has to other neighbours.
The drive to bring better care and supportive infrastructure to the disabled was led by its vice president, Lenin Moreno, who is a paraplegic and wheelchair bound.
Dookeran said while the details of a diplomatic post in each country were yet to be worked out, there were other aspects of having Ecuador’s presence in T&T that were at the forefront.
Dookeran said talks have begun between Petrotrin and Ecuadorian companies of a similar nature with regard to energy and resource management, as Ecuador is a petroleum-based country as well.
Aroco said his country once operated on a World Bank model that saw multinationals benefit 80 per cent of profits derived from Ecuadorian resources.
“We had to do away with laws that governed petroleum and mines that were drafted by the World Bank and were totally unfavourable to the Ecuadorian people,” Aroco said.
The tables have now turned, with Ecuador claiming 80 per cent and the multinationals taking away 20 per cent.
Aroco said the region should present a united front in managing the presence of multinationals and in addition to walking away with more profit for its resources, smaller countries like T&T will gain more bargaining power with bodies like the UN.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Aroco said, adding that countries like T&T and his own can “grow together”.