CARICOM’s Council for the Trade and Economic Development (COTED) has increased the common external tariff (CET) on pasta and cement for one year. It came into effect on January 1.
The tariffs would, in theory, make imported products more expensive compared to domestic (Caricom-manufactured) products. The new tariff on pasta is 40 per cent, up from 20 per cent, while imported cement will have a tariff of 35 per cent, up from 15 per cent. The decision was made at the 49th annual COTED ministerial meeting last November in Georgetown Guyana.
Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon represented TT and raised these two issues. In a release Friday, the TT Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) said these new tariffs “were of interest” to the local manufacturing sector.
“Such developments are expected to assist in safeguarding the local pasta and cement industries that are faced with high imports from extra-regional countries. And so, such actions by the Government would serve to secure local jobs and preserve foreign exchange that may have otherwise been expended on the importation of foreign substitutes,” the TTMA said. The tariffs, they claimed, would restore confidence in local operators to expand operations and investments in the local economy, and might also act as an impetus to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) into TT. The organisation also thanked the Gopee-Scoon for raising the issue at COTED.
The TTMA said it would continue its advocacy to improve regulations and ease of doing business in the country and the region to allow for sustainable growth in the non-energy manufacturing sector. The association’s goal is to double exports in the next five years.