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CARICOM grants zero-tariff relief to less developed members including Belize

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2020. 2:22 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, Article 164, which governs the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has been amended as of January 1 to apply cheaper rates to products from so-called less developed countries among its members.

St. Lucia News Online reports that members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) including Saint Lucia, Haiti and Belize will benefit from a zero-percent tariff rate on imported classified goods from CARICOM MDCs and goods from outside the region, until December 2028 (Tariff rates on curry powder and pasta expire on December 2023). The regime covers 14 product groups across 39 tariff lines and provides tariff protection to most of the products on the list for a period of 10 years. The tariff rates on selected items from More Developed Countries coming to Less Developed Countries will be adjusted upwards.

The initiative seeks to enable the growth and development of the Less Developed Countries of CARICOM by promoting industrial development.

In the case of Saint Lucia, which is currently producing 17 of the 39 product groups, their government plans interventions to enhance capacity and develop the skillset and standards of the businesses in LDC’s to increase their competitiveness. He added that the current regime being implemented across the OECS creates employment, promotes foreign exchange and makes the Saint Lucian economy more resilient, according to Dr. Thomas Samuel, Director of International Trade at the Ministry of Commerce.

Manufacturers Association head Paula James welcomes the move, saying it will now be easier for local manufacturers to compete internationally.

Belize is looking forward to gaining a foothold in the region in sugar production, which was agreed at last year’s meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development held here in November.

 

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