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Jamaica to try again for CET waiver on cement

Published:Wednesday | March 31, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Jamaica is to make a fresh case for an extension of the Common External Tariff (CET) at an upcoming meeting of regional trade officials, according to Industry and Commerce Minister Karl Samuda.

He has a month or more to prepare.

Samuda said the matter will be raised when the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) con-venes in May.

Last November, amid intensive lobbying against it by Trinidad Cement Limited and its Jamaican subsidiary, Caribbean Cement Company Limited, COTED denied Jamaica's application for an extension of the waiver by another year.

Samuda is seeking to secure 15 per cent or 120,000 tonnes of the domestic cement market for importers.

The CET is a rate of duty applied by CARICOM members to a product imported from a country which is not a member of the common market.

TCL and its subsidiaries dominate production and trade of the commodity in the region. The Trinidadian group in the past year has fought off efforts by both Guyana and Jamaica to ease import restrictions on cement produced outside the region.

Samuda has maintained that he does not believe that Caribbean Cement, the sole Jamaican manufacturer, is in a position to meet market demands.

He has also raised concerns about the company's storage capacity, and its ability to secure sufficient inventory to allow the construction sector to maintain operations, in the event of a production shortfall.