KINGSTON — Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda has argued that more needs to be done collectively among member states of CARICOM, to formulate a co-ordinated approach to tackle the trade issues of dumping and subsidised imports within the region.
“We must harmonise our approach, harmonise legislation, so we can ensure that whatever we do in one member state applies to all member states,” he emphasised.
The Minister was speaking today, at a meeting and training session on Policy, Legislative and Administrative Arrangements, relating to Dumped and Subsidised Goods and Imports for CARICOM states, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.
Mr. Samuda told the trade experts that it is critical that CARICOM member states, although independent, work collectively to formulate specific legislation to protect their individual countries and industries from the potentially damaging effects of dumping and subsidisation.
“We must begin to learn to draw on the strengths of each other and strengthen those areas in our region where we find that there are weaknesses. Only through a process of harmonisation can we really hope to overcome the challenges that this region, as a whole, faces,” he noted.
Mr. Samuda further said that the Government has tried very hard and has been very diligent in its approach to “this very vexed problem of dumping."
He pointed out that incidents of dumping occur every day throughout the world, and the real issue “lies in whether or not products entering these (CARICOM) territories come in at a price that, in terms of trade, pose a real threat to the domestic industry."
The Minister argued that whatever fines or remedies that are put in place must be equal to the level of threat that those incidents of dumping pose on a specific industry.
“So, we must be cognizant of the fact that dumping is here with us and is likely to be here with us for a very, very long time. We must therefore safeguard the interests of our member states to ensure that the extent of the dumping does not create any kind of injury to especially fledgling industries that are seeking to be established within our respective countries,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Samuda said that member states cannot continue to complain about goods entering their territories, whilst at the same time, neglect to provide the adequate human and financial resources to effectively curtail the problem.
“We need to ensure that appropriate measures are taken, through collaboration, to arrive at a set of legislative action or procedures that will enhance our position,” suggested.
In the meantime, Programme Manager, CARICOM/CSME Unit, Ivon Carryl said the region’s trade remedies regime is still a work in progress, arguing that what now exists might best be described as a “patch work” of national capabilities to enforce against practices of dumping and subsidisation.
“This is in spite of the fact that under Chapter 25 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas there are three parts that deal with dumping and subsidisation, and the fact that we are parties to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which has a chapter that deals with trade remedies, plus a number of bilateral agreements that CARICOM is party to, which contain trade remedies provisions,” he said.
“So, in effect we are late, having agreed to all of these things but not implementing a regime that we administer with any degree of effectiveness,” Mr. Carryl noted.
He said the two-day meeting and training session will focus on several issues, including the legal dimensions that are required to operate a trade remedies regime, which include anti-dumping and subsidies within the region’s Customs Union.
Discussions will also confront some of the provisions of the Revised Treaty, which raise questions of policy that need to be clarified and hopefully agreed to, Mr. Carryl added.
The training session will be held from May 9 to 12, and is being attended by government officials from trade ministries and administrations, as well as customs services within the CARICOM region.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter