- Published on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 05:11
- Written by Jamaica Gleaner
Barbados says it will raise with the Caribbean Community Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) what it said was unfair competition involving the production of beers in the subregional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Minister, Donville Inniss, in an interview with the Advocate newspaper in Barbados, said that multinational corporations in the OECS were producing items and then benefiting from lower duties when those products enter Barbados.
He said the beer industry in the subregion was benefitting from lower duties because of a CARICOM arrangement which gives special treatment to the OECS.
Those countries are categorised as less developed countries (LDCs) whereas Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago are classified as more developed countries (MDCs).
Inniss said the companies manufacturing those beverages have pockets that are deeper than the main beverage company in Barbados and the matter would be brought to COTED which handles trade disputes among CARICOM countries.
"We are currently gathering our information here in Barbados to see how best we can address this," he said. "We cannot have a situation where companies in Barbados with shallow pockets are being forced to compete on playing fields not levelled, with companies located in the LDCs."
Inniss told the newspaper that this issue of MDCs and LDCs has to be looked at "where some goods coming from the MDCs like Barbados are attracting a higher tariff rate in the LDCs whereas it is not the same with goods coming from the LDCs into Barbados.
"What troubles me is unfair competition ... and I intend to raise it at my first COTED meeting," he said.
Inniss said "Whilst, for example, you may say a product manufactured in Barbados should attract a 70 per cent rate of duty going into a Caribbean island, and a similar product from another Caribbean island coming into Barbados attracts a duty of 20 per cent, you look behind it and see that the ownership of that Eastern Caribbean country is actually a MDC with deep pockets and not that is owned by OECS concerns, then that is a reason for concern."