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Tariff suspensions approved by COTED

Posted in: Press Releases | 13 August 2008 | Release Ref #: 59/2008 | 1353

    (CARICOM Secretariat Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) THE Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) last week approved the suspension of the Common External Tariff (CET) on three categories of items in an effort to provide relief from the rising costs of commodities region-wide.

    At its Twenty-fourth Special Meeting held 7-8 March in Nassau, the Bahamas, the COTED approved the suspension following the consideration of recommendations from a technical team appointed to review a set of commodities which have a significant weight in the Consumer Price Index (CPI); are not significantly produced or have a close substitute in the Region and attract a CET. The CET is the only instrument available for intervention at the regional level to address the issue of the rising cost of living.

    In the first category of commodities, the CET would be suspended for the most part to zero percent for two years ending 4 March 2010. Those items include cheddar cheese, oil, raisin bran/corn flakes and dried breakfast cereals, baby formula and baking powder.

    In the second category, the suspension of the CET was granted for six months on juices for infant use.

    The third category consists of items that attract a rate of 0-5 per cent or are on List A of the CET and which Member States require only to notify the CARICOM Secretariat of the rate they would be applying. List A of the CET reflects the grant of an indefinite suspension of the CET rate to Member States. The items in that category include milk, chicken, beef, lamb, onions, oatmeal, beans and potatoes. Ceramic sinks and tiles are also in that category.

    Member States must notify the CARICOM Secretariat by April 4 of the items on which they would wish to join other Member States in suspending the CET on items agreed by the COTED.

    The approved suspensions were noted by the Heads of Government at their Nineteenth Inter-sessional Meeting in Nassau, following the Special COTED Meeting. Administrative procedures for the suspensions to take effect must be put in place by Member States.

    The mandate to address the issue of the rising cost of living through the CET was given by the Heads of Government following the Twelfth Special Meeting of Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Georgetown on 7 December 2007. Poverty and the rising cost of living were among the subjects of that special meeting. At the end of its Twenty-Fifth Meeting in Georgetown in January 2008, COTED requested Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to submit national lists of items on which they would be prepared to reduce or remove the CET. The COTED took this decision after lengthy, intense but incomplete discussions in search of a single common list to fulfill the mandate of the Heads of Government.