Fri | Jan 19, 2018

Reform CARICOM trade regime

Published:Friday | July 1, 2016 | 12:00 AM


I note with great interest the comments attributed to William Mahfood in the June 29, 2016 edition of The Gleaner. Just over four years ago (June 12, 2012), I was honoured to have a letter of mine published in this very newspaper. In my letter, 'My two cents on a workable budget', I made, inter alia, the following points:

1. I do not support the calls to get out of CARICOM, but think a special fuel-parity cess should be levied on all products imported from Trinidad and Tobago to counter the special concessions their manufacturers enjoy on energy. I would support 20-25 per cent.

2. There have been reports of rules-of-origin violations by T&T involving the relabelling of goods made in other countries as 'Made in Trinidad'. Customs should verify the origins of T&T goods and charge a five per cent fee for this service. Typical processing time should be two to six weeks after cargo lands here, but importers would have the option of waiving this verification process by paying a 15 per cent certification fee.

3. T&T companies with manufacturing operations in Jamaica should be able to import FROM T&T goods equivalent to a maximum of 150 per cent of their total exports TO T&T, under normal CARICOM rules.

It seems others are finally coming around to what I realised long ago. I still do not support a Jexit, or the break-up of CARICOM. After all, except for Trinidad & Tobago, CARICOM works fairly well. When there is a game on and one player decides to misbehave, the referee doesn't call off the game. He simply sanctions or (in extreme cases) ejects the player. The Gleaner report has Mr Mahfood saying that CARICOM should be moving at "a better pace" toward integration ... ." I feel that, without T&T, the pace would pick up considerably.