BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday May 16, 2018 – The Barbados Government is being taken before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) again.
Locally-based Arawak Cement Company Limited (ACCL) and its parent company Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) are taking on the government for contravening several articles of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) which established the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
They say the government unilaterally reduced the Common External Tariff (CET) on cement, which had been set by the Council of Trade and Economic Development (COTED), from 60 per cent to five per cent.
Arawak and TCL announced today that last week they filed an application for Special Leave at the CCJ to pursue an Originating Application against the government in the matter. In its original jurisdiction, the CCJ interprets and applies the Revised Treaty.
In a statement, the companies argued that the reduction of the rate caused “distorted competition” and promoted unfair trade practices within the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
They are also seeking a declaration that the Government of Barbados contravened article 79 of the Revised Treaty by misclassifying imported cement.
“As it stands, the imported cement from Portugal and Turkey has been and is being marketed as cement for general use as stated on its packaging, and is being sold for the same applications as the locally produced Arawak Cement brand,” the companies said in a statement.
“ACCL and TCL are asking for the immediate reinstatement of the COTED-approved 60 per cent rate of duty on cement imports classified as ‘other hydraulic cements’; application of the classification of ‘building cement (grey)’ to all imports of general purpose building cement from third States, which are marketed in direct competition to and used in substitution for the cement produced by TCL and Arawak and other regional producers of general purpose ‘building cement’; damages for the total loss suffered by the company dating back to November 2015 and other relief as the court considers just.”
The companies insisted that deviation from the policies of COTED – the region’s established body for trade and economic activity – is preventing the country from collecting rightful taxes and duties, and could have long-term consequences for Arawak’s sustainability, manufacturing operations and also for the Barbados economy.
The public was first alerted to the legal action by leader of the opposition Barbados Labour Party, Mia Mottley, who made the disclosure at a political meeting last night.