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Still no direct impact on JA from US steel, aluminum tariffs - Johnson Smith

Published:Thursday | June 21, 2018 | 9:49 AM
Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith - File photo

Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith has reiterated that US tariffs on steel and aluminium at this time still have no direct impact on Jamaica. 

Following a press briefing on Tuesday, June 19, Johnson Smith said, "75% of our bauxite and 9% of our alumina is exported to the US and is exempt under the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI). The majority of our alumina, which is an input for aluminium, is however exported to European countries and Canada, countries now subject to US tariffs on steel & aluminium,".

Continuing, "To be clear, however, these exports of alumina are still not directly affected, and the market impact on those countries is still uncertain. Additionally, our largest European destination markets for alumina, do not export large amounts of aluminium to the US. While the indirect impact is therefore ultimately possible, our immediate exposure remains limited,”. 

Johnson Smith stated that since March when she made her first statement on the matter in the Senate, there has been no change in her position.

She noted, “Knee-jerk reactions are still to be avoided. The updated information provided in respect of European countries and Canada no longer being exempt from tariffs is a development worth noting, as was done yesterday (Monday). However, there is still insufficient clarity on how this matter will develop, and if it will have a negative impact on us. Furthermore, it is quite clear that these countries are analysing and evaluating their own options”. 

Johnson Smith said that her Ministry continues to pay close attention to the potential impact of the measures on the global trading system, and is committed to making informed and strategic decisions in Jamaica's interest.

“We will continue to engage with international partners, relevant line ministries, and the private sector, in order to ensure that where possible, we can effectively anticipate and counteract any potential market effects”. 

She also used the opportunity to reaffirm the distinction between the US’ tariffs on steel and aluminium and the UC Rusal matter.

She declared that it was, “important to avoid linking the two issues,” explaining that, “the developments surrounding the operations of WINDALCO, which is owned by UC Rusal, are unrelated to the tariffs on steel and aluminium. They are a direct consequence of the sanctions imposed on specific Russian business interests".

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