CMC — The St Lucia government says Caribbean Community (CARICOM) should review the Common External Tariff (CET), saying that the “world has changed dramatically” since the signing of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration grouping.
Dame Pearlette Louisy, delivering the traditional Throne speech at the start of a new session of Parliament here on Tuesday, said that the St Lucia government will place the issue on its agenda in the coming months.
“St Lucia, in common with other Caribbean States, committed on July 05, 2001 to the “Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the Caribbean Community Including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. Since the signing of the Revised Treaty, the world has changed dramatically. The world that we knew is, frankly, no more,” she told legislators.
Dame Pearlette said that at the heart of the arrangements governing trade in the region is what has been described as a Common External Tariff.
“This tariff is essentially a legally binding agreement to allow all member states to impose identical or uniform rates of duty on items imported from outside of the community that is, from third countries, in a bid to protect regional domestic production and trade within the Community.
“My government believes that the time has come to review the Common External Tariff to determine whether protection should continue to be available to some products manufactured in our region.”
She said St. Lucia cannot continue to protect some regional products to the detriment of its people.
“My government is also of the view that the rates of duty ascribed to some products need to be revised and that greater flexibility should be given to member states in adjusting rates of duty on certain products in periods of economic stress or adjustment.
“My government hopes to place these issues on the agenda of the appropriate and relevant institutions of CARICOM in the coming weeks, as part of the review of the Common External Tariff scheduled to start by July this year,” she said in her address.
According to the CARICOM Secretariat website, member states “shall establish and maintain a common external tariff in respect of all goods which do not qualify for Community treatment in accordance with plans and schedules set out in relevant determinations of COTED (Council of Trade and Economic Development).
It said that the CET is based on the World Customs Organization’s Harmonized Coding and Description System structure at the eight digit level.