January 07, 2010

Guyana seeking regional support to settle cement impasse
Published - Thursday, January 7, 2010
Source: Caribbean Net News

GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Guyana is seeking to urgently resolve the impasse with the Trinidad Cement Limited on the removal of the common external tariff on cement imported from extra regional sources say foreign affairs minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett.

The Foreign Minister said Monday that the matter, which is of importance to the entire Caribbean, would be raised at the next Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) meeting to be held here from February 4 to 9.

The matter is high on the agenda as it can have significant negative impacts on the local construction sector if not resolved urgently.

She has raised the matter with officials from other CARICOM states who are facing similar problems with the Trinidad-based cement company.

“I have been in discussion with several of my colleagues (Caribbean Foreign Ministers) and this hopefully, will be one of the first issues to be discussed at our next COTED and Guyana is looking to have this issue resolved in such away, that our business can continue, and our construction workers would not be hindered,” Rodrigues Birkett said.

Guyanese authorities had indicated that the removal of the CET from the commodity was based on national interest since the Trinidad-based company was unable to meet the demand from Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean.

“The issue of the CET on cement found itself on many occasions in the media and is something that is very very important to us to be sorted out… it would call for cooperation and collaboration with other member states as well and we are hoping we would be able to have a reasonable agreement in this regard,” Rodrigues explained.

TCL had moved to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) against Guyana and the CARICOM secretariat claiming that the removal of CET on cement from outside the region was illegal.

The Court ruled in favour of the company last year and instructed Guyana to reinstate the tariff. Guyana has abided by the ruling but will contest the decision.

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