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Jamaican companies not tapping CBI tax breaks – Tapia

Published:Tuesday | December 3, 2019 | 12:38 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Donald Tapia, US ambassador to Jamaica.
Donald Tapia, US ambassador to Jamaica.


Donald Tapia, the United States’ top envoy in Jamaica, is encouraging Jamaican business leaders to take greater advantage of the five to 20 per cent tax-free export arrangement embedded in the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), especially beyond the export of agricultural produce.

Speaking with business leaders in Montego Bay, St James, last weekend, Tapia said that Jamaica, with its stable economy, was not making the best use of the CBI.

The non-reciprocal programme, in effect since 1984, allows for designated Caribbean and Central American countries to ship a wide range of products duty-free to the United States.

“This is your country; I am here to help you. Use us, that is what we are here for,” said Tapia, who delivered the keynote address at the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “We are here to help you grow within the framework and the marketplace of the US.”

In noting that many Jamaican companies do not extract the full benefits from the CBI, Tapia expressed a willingness to work with local private-sector leaders to properly apply for the tax-refund incentive under the programme.

“If there is any here in the room (companies) that are exporting a product to the US, please listen to what I have to say here. You don’t get the full five to 20 per cent tax refund for your export because of one reason – you don’t fill out a one-page document,” said Tapia.

The US ambassador said that investors, on the completion of that all-important one-page document, will be placed on a different trading plane.

“Jamaican companies primarily use CBI for agriculture export to the US. Agricultural products represent 95 per cent of the goods exported to the US by Jamaica through this programme. These agricultural products include fresh and shelved yams,” noted Tapia.

Tapia said that there are more than 5,000 products covered under the CBI programme and that Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana are exporting millions of dollars of apparel, leather goods, minerals, fuel, oil to the US.