PRESIDENT of the Scrap Iron Dealers Association Allan Ferguson has written to the Switzerland-based World Trade Organization (WTO) seeking its intervention in getting Government to end the six-month ban on scrap-metal exports.
Ferguson sent the letter to WTO director general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a release from the association said on Monday evening.
In the letter, Ferguson said he was appealing for help from the WTO given that Trinidad and Tobago has been a member of the organisation since 1995, and hence Government must adhere to the WTO's guidelines and policies.
The ban took effect from August 12 and will run until February 23. It was enforced as a means of clamping down on the export of scrap metals, demand for which has fuelled an upsurge in crimes including stealing items such as manhole covers, copper cable from TSTT, metal pipe fittings belonging to WASA and even a church bell.
The ban, the association said, came even as it was trying to liaise with Government to implement a new policy to help deter crime and vandalism.
The association claimed it has been begging Government since 2013 to formulate and implement a new policy to regulate the industry.
The ban, Ferguson said, has already had a negative impact on the livelihood of thousands of people – the majority being from the lower income bracket – who depend on the industry for a living.
The ban has also affected many Caricom citizens, Ferguson claimed, who depend on the export of scrap metals from Trinidad.
Ferguson pointed out that during a meeting in 2019, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon alluded to the importance of the scrap-metal industry to TT's economy.
He saidCentral Statistical Office (CSO) data showed that scrap metal exports rose from $69 million in 2009 to over $216 million in 2019.
For 2020, TT exported $20 million in scrap metal, making it the 75th largest exporter of the commodity in the world, Ferguson said.
"The TTSIDA views your intervention as important since this six-month ban is detrimental to the existence of the scrap iron industry in TT and its future," Ferguson said in his letter to the WTO.
"In light of this, we ask that you look into this matter given the information provided and for the much needed assistance or guidance our association is seeking at this time."