Caribbean rum producers oppose tariff protection for extra-regionally produced bottles

Last Updated on Thursday, 1 December 2022, 17:12 by Denis Chabrol

Chairman of the West Indian Rum and Spirits Association, Komal Samaroo.

The West Indian Rum and Spirits Association (WIRSPA) is lobbying Caribbean Community (CARICOM) stakeholders to reject an application for tariffs to be imposed on glass bottles produced  extra-regionally on the grounds that a Trinidad-based company would be unable to satisfy regional demand.

WIRSPA Chairman Komal Samaroo specifically asked the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association  (GMSA) to join forces with regional rum producers and other manufacturers to “vigorously oppose this proposal” because jobs could be lost if companies move out of he region.

“There is a proposal under consideration of the CARICOM Trade Ministers to seek to give tariff protection to a sole regional producer of packaged glass that cannot meet total quantity and quality presently required by the manufacturing sector in the region,” he told the recently concluded 27th annual awards of the GMSA.

Mr Samaroo warned that that proposal was not in the interest of the Caribbean’s manufacturing sector. “There is a real danger that this proposal, if successful, could result in the relocation of much of the regional value-added operations and the jobs created therefrom, moving them nearer to markets where consumers reside for the final product and where more attractive packaging material is available in keeping with the new trend of home-sourcing following the chaos created by COVID,” said Mr Samaroo who is Chairman of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL).

President Irfaan Ali, who was among the attendees who heard the WIRSPA Chairman’s plea, pledged Guyana’s support. “We have to champion what Komal is talking about also and you could rely on us as a strong partner,” Dr Ali said. He added that he has already asked Commissioner-General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to talk with Mr Samaroo “and see how we can apply our own system in securing our industry because it is critical.”

Mr Samaroo explained to Demerara Waves Online News that Carib Glassworks is seeking tariff protection which means that any glass bottle imported outside of CARICOM will attract a Common External Tariff.