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Financial News

Sep 2004 Financial News

Gov't to formalise 40% cement duty

Sep 29, 2004

The Government of Jamaica will formalise a 40 per cent duty on cement, bringing the tariff close in line with the recommendation of the Antidumping and Subsidies Commission, in a case brought by Caribbean Cement Company.

"The Cabinet adopted the full recommendations of the commission and it was agreed that a straightforward increase in the tariff to a level of 40 per cent would be effected," the commerce minister, Phillip Paulwell, said in a statement yesterday. ". Our only obligation will be to notify the WTO (World Trade Organisation) of the increase."

Jamaica had previously maintained a 15 per cent tariff on Portland cement.

But last September, Carib Cement, claiming that it was being hurt by imports, and seeking protection while it undertook a US$100 million investment to upgrade its plant, filed a safeguard request with the Antidumping and Subsidies Commission.

In July, the commission confirmed its preliminary ruling of a 25.83 per cent addition to the existing tariff, leading to a final composite tariff of 40.83 per cent for a period of four years.
But the government has decided to round-out the duty at 40 per cent. Jamaica could have applied a maximum 50 per cent safeguard tariff under WTO rules.

Carib Cement, a subsidiary of Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL), had at one stage suggested that the 50 per cent tariff protection was critical for its big plant upgrade, which would prepare it for the expected lowering of tariffs under the proposed Free Trade Areas of the Americas (FTAA).

However, senior company officials were unavailable for comments last night in the wake of Paulwell's announcement.

Cement tariff has been an issue of long-standing debate in Jamaica, with Carib Cement, in recent years, complaining several times that it was hurt by imports.

On at least three times in the past three years, two major cement importers - Mainland Ltd and ARC Systems - have had to pay heavy duties after the Antidumping Commission ruled that they imported dumped cement from Thailand and Egypt.

Source: Jamaica Observer