Mon | Oct 22, 2018

Hanna urges proactive Gov't response to Trump's aluminium tariffs

Published:Thursday | March 15, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

The decision by United States (US) President Donald Trump to impose tariffs on a number of countries for imported aluminium and steel could have serious implications for Jamaica, says Opposition Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Lisa Hanna.

She expressed fear that recent investment by the Chinese of US$320 million in the JISCO Alpart plant in St Elizabeth could be negatively affected by the imposition of the tariffs.

"The proposed tariffs pose a definite risk to the international market for these products as they could now attract the new US tariff, potentially limit our exports in these industries, and result in some price increases to our local construction sector," Hanna told The Gleaner.

"This is the largest single investment of any kind in Jamaica, which aims to refurbish, modernise, and expand the alumina plant for the establishment of several 'downstream' and ancillary manufacturing activities. And all that is now in danger, given the new measures to come on stream," added Hanna.

 

ASSESS LOCAL IMPACT

 

She is urging the Government to be proactive in this matter and tell the Jamaican people if and how the new measures will affect the economic prospects in terms of the growth outlook for the country.

Hanna pointed out that the US has historically operated on a premise of free trade and encouraged countries to open their markets to American products.

"Furthermore, other goods, before now, have been allowed entry under the Caribbean Basin Initiative. But as a result of these recently proposed tariffs by President Trump, products from the St Elizabeth plant may not, in the circumstance, be cost effective," Hanna said.

She said that the Opposition recognised that the imposition of tariffs could be disadvantageous for the Jamaican economy if they impair the country's alumina export market and important ancillary investments in the sector.

"In these circumstances, Jamaica must not adopt a wait-and-see approach, but have a proactive, operationalised foreign trade policy that is courageous, strategic, and principled," Hanna reasoned.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com