Damion Mitchell, Editor Ė Online & Radio
The European Union is warning that it is running out of patience with Jamaica and seven other CARIFORUM countries which have failed to cut import duties for products coming from Europe.
Under the European Partnership Agreement (EPA), the tariff cuts should have started in January 2011 when a three-year grace period expired.
However, speaking to Jamaican journalists in Brussels today, Alexander Walford of the European Unionís Trade Directorate said Jamaica is among eight countries which have been lagging and now their credibility is at stake.
A reduction in import duties for products coming from the 27-member European Union means that Jamaica, already in a tight fiscal situation could see a reduction in revenues raised at the ports.
Last year, Jamaica earned $24.4 billion through Customs duties.
According to Walford, a cut in tariffs for European products entering Jamaica would not see a significant dent in customs revenues.
In fact, he said Jamaica has much more to lose, like its credibility, if it fails to honour its obligation under the EPA and begin the agreed phased tariff cuts.
However given Jamaicaís tight fiscal space where the finance minister has outlined that the country needs every single dollar, would the EU entertain the idea to delay the implementation of the tariff cut?
Walford said while he understands the circumstances there is no room for a lifeline.
To make matters worse, he said there has been no communication from Kingston as to why it has failed to honour its obligation under the EPA to cut import tariffs.
It is why Walford said discussions are continuing with the CARICOM Secretariat about the failure of Jamaica and its seven Caribbean colleagues.
He said the next stage would be to hold talks with Caribbean ambassadors in Europe and if all that fails, then the EU would have to treat the matter as a dispute and refer it for arbitration.