Trade ministry: No more import licences for cars older than 3 years

Automotive Dealers Association president Visham Babwah. -
Automotive Dealers Association president Visham Babwah. -

The TT Automotive Dealers Association is calling for leniency after the Ministry of Trade and Industry announced that the Trade Licensing Unit would not revalidate import licences issued in 2021 to a date in 2022 for used right-hand drive vehicles older than three years.

This means that vehicles that are in transit to TT which may be weeks away from being three years old or older will not be cleared at the ports if their ages exceed three years.

The association’s president Visham Babwah told Newsday the used-car industry has already been plagued by delays in shipping of vehicles and, with motor vehicle taxes and shorter limitations on the permissible age for used vehicles, the prices of these vehicles have been affected.

“Where someone could have gotten a vehicle for $65,000, they now have to pay over $100,000,” he said.

“The cars that we are importing must arrive in the country before the three-year period before December 31. We have no control over shipping. We have no control over delays at other ports.

“In these difficult times, when everything is being held back, I would have thought that the Ministry of Trade would be more lenient with the foreign-used-car dealers and individual importers.”

He called on the minister to be more understanding, saying that while suppliers would give an estimated time of departure and arrival, these dates could move forward or backward depending on circumstances outside of the dealers’ control.

“To meet the requirement, the vehicle would have to be between two and two and a half years to be shipped out. It has already put us under tremendous pressure. A lot of dealers do not even have cars to sell right now because of that three-year limitation.

“We are delayed more than three months already. Something that would have taken one month to arrive is now taking three months. So people could order cars from September or October but it doesn’t necessarily have to arrive in December. It could arrive in January or February.”

Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon told Newsday the position taken by government was the same one it took in 2020 when it was announced in the budget that the limitations on used cars would be shortened from four years to three.

She said the dealers were made aware of their quotas and were supposed to plan their businesses accordingly.

“With regard to this past year, they have had a sense of what they would have been getting. We did releases quarterly, but at the beginning of the year you know what you are entitled to and what you would get. What will happen next year will be maintaining the status quo, because that was the position we had since last year,” she said.


"Trade ministry: No more import licences for cars older than 3 years"

More in this section