CCJ sets hearing on complaints against Guyana published
Friday July 25, 2008
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has adjourned to November 10 hearing of an application by the Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) and the TCL Guyana Incorporated (TGI) for leave to appear as special parties to a court matter filed against the Guyana Government.
In an interim ruling, the seven judges described the proceedings as "historic" since "this is the first matter in which the Caribbean Court of Justice has been called upon to exercise its original jurisdiction".
The applicants had gone to the CCJ for special leave to appear as parties seeking compensation and/or injunctive relief from the Guyana Government after alleging a breach by Georgetown of the provisions of Article 82 of the Treaty of Chaguaramas which oblige Guyana to establish and maintain a common external tariff (CET) on cement imported into that state from third states.
They argued that the imposition of the CET at the rate of 15 per cent on imports of cement from third states is of great commercial benefit to them because of the protection thereby afforded to their products.
TCL and TGI also said that when the CET is imposed by Guyana, they enjoy a competitive advantage over imports of cement from third states which do not qualify for Community treatment in accordance with the treaty.
But, according to the two companies, they do not now enjoy this competitive advantage because the Guyana Government in January 2007 suspended the implementation of the CET on imports of cement into that country from third states.
In response, Guyana's Attorney General Doodnauth Singh admitted that the Bharrat Jagdeo government had suspended implementation of the CET on cement and that the Caribbean Community's Council on Trade and Economic Development (COTED) had not authorised any suspension in respect of the relevant period.
But, he said, that the suspension was justified because of the critical shortage of the commodity and in light of Guyana's urgent developmental needs as a "dis-advantaged country" pursuant to Article One of the treaty.