Inniss to address big duty
The Barbados Government is still awaiting an official word from the CARICOM Secretariat regarding an investigation into St Lucia’s imposition of a 70 per cent duty on some products from Barbados.
But Minister of Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss said he would be raising the issue at the next Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) meeting, whenever it is held if the investigation is not carried out and a decision issued before then.
He was responding to questions from reporters today following a tour of the Barbados Bottling Company (BBC), a soft drink manufacturer within the Banks Holdings Limited (BHL) group.
BHL was caught off guard when St Lucia announced at the end of March this year that, effective April 1, certain items from more developed countries (MDCs) within CARICOM would attract the 70 per cent rate, based on Article 164 of the Revised Treaty Of Chaguaramas, which differentiates between less developed countries (LDCs) and MDCs.
While BHL also export juices and milk into St Lucia, only its Banks Beer and Tiger Malt would be affected.
Other items to be affected by the increase include aerated beverages and solar water heating systems.
Inniss said he would soon be seeking a status report from the Ministry of Foreign Trade on the matter. He maintained that Article 164 of the Revised Treaty Of Chaguaramas, which speaks to LDC and MDC was no longer relevant.
“Barbados, unlike one or two other Caribbean islands, is never known to operate with a lone ranger and sheriff type attitude. We have always believed in having conversations across the waters with one another and those talks continue.
“I have asked the last COTED meeting I attended specifically that this issue be investigated and analyzed by the CARICOM Secretariat and that it be placed on the agenda for the next COTED meeting in inter-regional trade matters that I expect to attend,” he said.
The date for that meeting has not yet been announced.
Inniss said all Barbados was seeking in the matter was “a level playing field”.
“I think it is somewhat reprehensible that governments in those countries can now come and impose a 70 per cent duty on products coming from Barbados. They already have the advantage of being owned by large enterprise with greater access to raw materials and lower cost and technology and then we are slapped with a 70 per cent duty,” added Inniss.
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