JIS News

The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce has adjusted its application to the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) for a suspension of the Common External Tariff (CET) on imported cement, from 170,000 tonnes to 120,000 tonnes.
Minister with portfolio responsibility, Hon. Karl Samuda, who made the announcement at his New Kingston office this morning (Sept. 29), said the change is the result of an agreement reached after consultations with local cement producer, Carib Cement Company Limited.
Last month, the Government applied to COTED for a further one-year suspension of the CET, to accommodate the importation of 170,000 tonnes of cement, out of the projected annual demand of 850,000 tonnes. This was just before a previous suspension was to come to an end on September 9.
The new application, which will be made on October 8, will apply to cement imported over the next 12 months, representing some 15 per cent of the projected demand for the period. Since the start of the year, some 130,000 tonnes of cement has been imported by three suppliers, the Minister informed.
“The cement company has accepted the view expressed by many that there is sufficient efficiencies built into their organisation to enable them to compete effectively, and at the same time, to support a 15 per cent importation of cement from overseas,” Mr. Samuda assured.
“We recognise and respect the importance of our local manufacturing sector and Carib Cement is an integral part of that. Whatever we do must never be inimical to the interest of the sector generally, nor to Carib Cement. What we have sought to do is to ensure that we have a guaranteed supply of cement to satisfy the demand for the construction industry, and that is critical,” he continued.
The tariff was first suspended in 2006 to shore up supplies after thousands of tonnes of faulty cement by local manufacturer, Carib Cement Company Limited, had to be recalled.
In the meantime, the Commerce Minister said that while the Government wants to maintain a competitive market, the Ministry will be stepping up efforts to curb anti-competitive business practices in the industry, particularly the dumping of cement on the local market.
“There must be no dumping of cement into this region or certainly into Jamaica. Any suggestion of dumping must be investigated by the Anti-dumping Commission, which reports to me, and in any instance, where it is found that there is a practice of dumping that can be corroborated by the evidence produced, then the appropriate measures will be applied to protect the local producer.
“We are not going to put at risk, an industry because of the attempts by any importer to dump any product that would affect the development of that industry,” Mr. Samuda stated.

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