US Tariffs on Aluminium and Steel Not Hurting Jamaican Businesses

Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith (left), makes a point to State Minister, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr. (Credit: JIS)


KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday November 8, 2018 – Tariffs imposed by the United States (US) on aluminium and steel earlier this year are having little to no effect on Jamaican businesses, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith says.

And she has attributed that to the “alternatives and flexibility” that exist in the trading arrangements with countries that Jamaica exports to.

“We have not been impacted. In fact, we have been advised by the relevant line ministry that Jamaica’s earnings from bauxite and alumina for the first half of 2018 were 60 per cent and 95 per cent, respectively, of the entire export values in 2017. If that (trend) continues, we will, in fact, have grown in the sector,” she reported.

The Donald Trump administration imposed tariffs of 10 per cent and 25 per cent on aluminium and steel, respectively, citing national security grounds. The tariffs took effect on March 23.

And Minister Johnson Smith said the improvements that have been achieved in the sector despite tariffs, underscore “the importance of monitoring, maintaining a cool head [and] ensuring that you have data and analysis, so that you do not risk causing unnecessary panic within the sector and among the players”.

She spoke about the issue as she addressed the quarterly press briefing at her ministry yesterday, when she also disclosed that the technical work for the rollover of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) into a new CARIFORUM-United Kingdom (UK) trade arrangement post-Brexit is close to being finalized.

“The European Union (EU), I assure you, remains an important trade partner for Jamaica and our CARIFORUM colleagues, and the EPA will remain in place,” she said.

“It will continue to be the framework under which we trade with the EU, so we continue to work towards its ratification and to call on entrepreneurs and other players in the private sector to explore opportunities within this framework, even as we seek to improve implementation.”

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