KINGSTON — Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda, wants the Dominican Republic to take immediate action to allow a shipment of 250,000 tonnes of cement from the Caribbean Cement Company Limited’s (CCCL) Rockfort plant to be unloaded.
"We expect the Dominican authorities to use their good offices to have this product cleared, no later than the next 24 to 48 hours, so that they (CCCL and the Dominican importer) can get on with the business of trading," Mr. Samuda told an emergency press briefing at his Ministry, New Kingston, on Friday.
He explained that since the US$250,000 worth of cement was shipped, over two weeks ago, the delay in unloading the shipment in the Dominican Republic has resulted in some US$50,000 in losses for the CCCL, inclusive of demurrage charges.
“On top of that, they have lost a lot of time where they could have had other products shipped…so the loss is significant and, at a time when we badly need this type of economic activity,” he said.
Mr. Samuda emphasised that the shipment met all the necessary requirements of the Dominican standards body, as well as those set out by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ).
He said that the BSJ issued a certificate of conformity, confirming the integrity of the product, which qualified it to enter other countries in the region, and without.
“Therefore, there is no question as to the qualification of Carib Cement product, to enter the Dominican market,” he stated.
He also described as “discouraging and disappointing”, the developments over the past two weeks. He said his Ministry has observed and hoped for positive results from the negotiations between the importer and the Dominican Producers Association of Portland Cement.
He said the Ministry was particularly disappointed, as the Dominican Republic was one of Jamaica's CARIFORUM partners under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), and some 126,000 tonnes of cement was imported from Jamaica last year.
He stated that, despite Jamaica having, what he felt was excellent working relations with the Dominican Republic, they have sought, through their producers association, to prevent the local product from being cleared and unloaded.
He said since no issue of quality had been cited by the Dominican authorities, he is concerned that the barriers being imposed were out of fear of competition. However, he assured CCCL, that it has the full backing of his Ministry, and that everything will be done to ensure a level playing field.
Mr. Samuda also applauded CCCL for taking the bold move to compete in the Dominican marketplace.
By ALPHEA SAUNDERS, JIS Reporter