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  • Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, says that based on a request from Jamaica, a review of the verification procedure under the rules of origin requirements of CARICOM has commenced.
  • He said that the Jamaica Customs Agency is playing the key role for Jamaica in the revision process, which is being undertaken through the CARICOM Customs Committee.
  • The move comes as following some two years of investigation by Jamaica to determine the origin of nine lubricant products imported from Trinidad and Tobago.

Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, says that based on a request from Jamaica, a review of the verification procedure under the rules of origin requirements of CARICOM has commenced.

He said that the Jamaica Customs Agency is playing the key role for Jamaica in the revision process, which is being undertaken through the CARICOM Customs Committee.

The move comes as following some two years of investigation by Jamaica to determine the origin of nine lubricant products imported from Trinidad and Tobago.

In a statement in the House of Representatives on October 28, the Minister informed that the investigation found that five of the items have been found to be in breach of the rules of origin requirements of CARICOM.

Mr. Hylton explained that the matter was brought to the attention of the Trade Enforcement Advisory Mechanism (TEAM), located in the Ministry, following a formal complaint by an importer in 2012.

“In September 2012, Jamaica Customs initiated a query verification procedure in accordance with CARICOM rules regarding the lubricating oil complaint. Up to 2014, the information was not provided from Trinidad and Tobago,” he told the House.

He noted that Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Hon. A. J. Nicholson, then sought the intervention of the CARICOM Secretariat and the information was obtained in early 2014.

“Although the information provided was taken in good faith, there remained some doubt regarding the rigour of the verification done by the Customs authorities in Trinidad and Tobago. A decision was taken for Jamaica to do an on-the-spot investigation to review the production processes, books and accounts of the three exporters,” Mr. Hylton said.

He informed that the objective of the investigation was to determine whether the products satisfied the requirements for the Rules of Community Origin, noting that the verification visit was completed in Trinidad and Tobago over the period July 21-23, 2014.

The Minister advised the products that have failed to comply with the rules of origin will not receive a refund of customs duties deposited and the companies that imported these products may be subject to an audit to recover the duties that should have been applied to previous import shipments.

The items that have been found to be compliant will be eligible for a refund of deposits made during the period of the verification query.

Mr. Hylton stated that the investigation has pointed to the need for further amendments to ensure clarity regarding the treatment of import duties where there is a non-response by an exporting member state.

He reiterated the Ministry’s pledge to protect investors, not just by ensuring the integrity of imported products under preferential schemes but by continuing to enforce trade rules to ensure a level playing field for local producers.

“Indeed, the fundamental lesson to be drawn from this exercise is that a legal framework already exists within CARICOM to ensure that our national interests are protected. However, these rules will remain as lifeless provisions unless we take bold and assertive actions to bring them to life and test their efficacy,” Mr. Hylton said.

 

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