Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 26th 2013 Contents • Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
The build-up to the latest battle
in the long-running trade war
between T&T and Jamaica began
when Jamaica's opposition
spokesman for Industry, Commerce
and Energy, Gregory Mair, told the
Standing Finance Committee of that
country's Parliament that goods
were being represented as being
from T&T when they were only
Misrepresenting products as being
of Caricom origin is a violation of
trade rules, allowing them to benefit
from lower customs duties and price
advantages in regional markets. Goods
from Caricom member states which
meet rules of origin are traded
duty-free throughout the region. A
Common External Tariff is usually
applied on products originating from
A few days later, Industry Invest-
ment and Commerce Minister Antho-
ny Hylton announced in Parliament
that customs duties were being
imposed on lube oil from T&T. He
said this was in response to the "deaf-
ening silence" from T&T authorities
to queries from the Jamaica govern-
ment following allegations by a private
sector firm there about a scheme afoot
to circumvent the rules of origin in
the Treaty of Chaguaramas.
Hylton, in his contribution to the
2013/14 Sectoral Debate in Kingston,
said the alleged scheme involved
exportation of lubrication oils by
"The submission, by the Jamaican
private sector firm, alleged that there
was misrepresentation with regards
to origin, in that the product was
being represented to be a product of
Trinidad and Tobago, when it was
not," Hylton said.
He said following discussions by
an inter-ministerial trade enforcement
team, the Jamaica Customs Depart-
ment issued a verification query on
the product to the T&T Customs and
Under the applicable rules, T&T's
government should have responded
to that verification request within six
weeks. However, more than six
months passed with no verification
"The silence is deafening," Hylton
The Jamaica Customs Department
imposed interim charges equivalent
to the duties to be applied and placed
the funds into a special escrow
account. To date, the accumulated
amount in the account is in excess
of J$184.2 million.
Petrotrin has since said that it does
not export lube oils to Jamaica and
that the claims being made in Jamaica
have had a negative impact on the
company's reputation and image.
The T&T Manufacturers' Associ-
ation (TTMA) and ExporTT have both
denied that exporters from this coun-
try are engaging in unfair trading
practices in Jamaica.
This incident is just the latest man-
ifestation of the uneasy commercial
relations that have existed between
T&T and Jamaica for several years.
Disputes over a range of products,
from toilet paper to patties, have high-
lighted the unhealthy state of trade
between the two Caribbean nations.
Toilet Paper Tussle
Just a few months ago, local man-
ufacturers Trinidad Tissues Limited
(TTL) complained that they were not
informed by the Jamaican Bureau of
Standards (JBOS) about an embargo
imposed on their toilet paper and
were not allowed to ensure the prod-
uct was up to required quality stan-
Blocked shipments of TTL toilet
paper were left sitting on Jamaican
ports for months following claims
that some of the products had tested
positive for high bacterial load.
In February, it was reported that
gynaecologists were seeing higher
level of vaginal infections in patients.
The culprit was narrowed down to
inferior toilet paper and samples of
toilet tissue products were sent to the
JBOS for testing. Ten shipments were
subsequently detained and the
importer was asked to either re-export
or destroy the product.
TTL wanted to know what level of
bacteria was present on the contam-
inated toilet paper and sent its own
samples to independent testing labs
in the US for examination. The JBOS
later released an approved "safe-list"
of tissue products.
On that list were three Trinidad-
produced brands, Petal, and So Soft
and Soft "n" Pretty---which are pro-
duced by TTL.
In 2009, there was a huge outcry
in Jamaica after T&T blocked Tastee
patties from being imported over con-
cerns about sanitary standards.
At the root of that dispute was
non-tariff barriers imposed against
Jamaica under the World Trade Orga-
nization's (WTO) sanitary and phy-
tosanitary guidelines on food safety
which came into effect in 1995. The
guidelines allow countries to set their
own standards to ensure their citizens
are not exposed to harmful products.
That dispute was settled after var-
ious inspections of plant and product
to ensure safety supported by scientific
Hylton figured in that dispute. In
2004, he negotiated a deal with T&T
for a 20-year supply of 1.1 million
tonnes of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
to Jamaica annually.
• Continues on Page A32
Latest data from the Central
Bank shows that T&T recorded a
trade surplus of US$407.60 mil-
lion in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Historically, from 1995 until
2012, T&T's balance of trade aver-
aged US$616.37 million, reaching
an all-time high of US$3217.90
million in September 2008 and a
record low of US$378.70 million
in March 2004.
This country mainly exports
natural gas and oil, ammonia, al-
cohols, iron, fertilisers, and iron
and steel and mainly imports oil,
iron ore, fuel, vehicles, water
heaters, ethyl alcohol, iron and
steel, pumps and catalysts.
T&T's main trading partner is
the United States, accounting for
around 45 per cent of total trade.
Others trading partners are Ja-
maica, Spain, Colombia, Mexico,
the Netherlands, Russia and the
Jamaica's Industry Investment and
Commerce Minister Anthony Hylton
BERLIN---An auctioneer says one
of Apple's first computers---a func-
tioning 1976 model---has been sold
for a record 516,000 euros
German auction house Breker said
yesterday an Asian client, who asked
not to be named, bought the so-called
Apple 1, which the tech company's
founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak
built in a family garage.
Breker claims it is one of only six
known remaining functioning models
in the world. Breker already sold one
last year for 492,000 euros.
It says the computer bears Wozni-
ak's signature. An old business trans-
action letter from the late Jobs also
The Apple 1, which was sold for
$666 in 1976, consisted of only the
circuit board. A case, a keyboard and
a screen had to be bought separately.
Vintage Apple computer auctioned off for $668,000
In an initiative driven by the T&T
(TTMA), a Trade Facilitation Desk
was established between T&T and
Jamaica in October 2011 and be-
came operational on May 1, 2012,
when Naika Pichi-Ayers was ap-
pointed trade desk officer.
The Jamaica and T&T's Cham-
bers of Commerce, as well as the
Jamaica Manufacturers' Associa-
tion and the Jamaica Exporters'
Association, were all signatories to
a memorandum of understanding
"to facilitate business opportunities
and ease up trade challenges be-
tween the two countries."
The primary objectives of this
Trade Facilitation Desk are to "open
doors in T&T on behalf of Jamaican
firms" and provide Jamaican firms
with information on the T&T mar-
ket, including trade regulations and
import procedures", including inter-
mediating with customs, standards
authorities, and assisting with ne-
gotiating the bureaucracy. The
desk also assists with matchmak-
ing between Jamaican firms and
their T&T counterparts and cus-
The packed container terminal at
the Port of Port-of-Spain stands
as evidence of the level of trade
activity in T&T.
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