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Exporters face threats, opportunities in Canadian market

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Observer – JAMAICAN manufacturers of some key items are likely to have their profit margins squeezed by higher duties in the Canadian export market, if Caricom fails to reach a new trade agreement with the North American country before year end. Pepper sauce and rum exports top the list of goods that would potentially be under threat if negotiations are not completed in time to avert a World Trade Organisation (WTO) challenge of the existing Caribbean-Canada Trade Agreement (CARIBCAN), a preferential arrangement under which most regional items enjoy duty-free access to the Canadian market, but which the WTO has ruled as unfair. Canada is the second biggest market for Jamaica's food exports, behind the United States. Jamaican exports to the country stood at Cdn$274.1 million ($25.9 billion) in 2011. But if a new trade agreement doesn't come into effect for January 1, 2014, and Canada is forced to charge duties, it could be harmful to some of the nation's most valuable export products to that market, says Lincoln Price, private sector liaison at the Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN) of the Caricom Secretariat.

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