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Fairness needed in global rum market

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart officially opens the CARICOM Secretariat’s Office of Trade Negotiations. Looking on are Secretary-General of CARICOM, Irvin LaRocque (left) and Acting Chairman of the Board of the CARICOM Development Fund, Nigel John (right).

A call has gone out to the United States to help find a solution to restore competitive balance in the US market for Caribbean rum, which currently faces stiff competition from US subsidised multinational rum producers.

This appeal comes from the Council for Trade and Economic Development of CARICOM, following the 35th meeting of the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development held in Georgetown, Guyana last week.

In a release from the CARICOM secretariat, COTED insists that the US should engage with Caribbean rum-producing countries about “serious concerns … resulting from the massive subsidies provided by the government of the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to multinational rum producers in those territories.”

Also stating that the “nature and scale of these subsidies are such that they threaten to distort rum markets not only in the US but elsewhere”, the release added COTED strongly supported the commitment of CARICOM countries to secure a resolution that would restore competitive balance in the marketplace.

“Time is not on the side of the Caribbean rum industry, given the likely deleterious effect of these subsidies on the long-term viability of an industry which is of such critical importance to the economic fabric of so many countries, in the region,” it added.

Rum production and export are critical to the social and economic well-being of the Caribbean region. Furthermore, the sector is said to be the largest agriculture-based export industry in CARICOM, a substantial employer and a major contributor to foreign exchange earnings and government revenue.

COTED is seeking to achieve an outcome that will support the continued competitive access for Caribbean rum to the US market, the CARICOM body stressed.

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