Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 28th 2013 Contents BG12 | REGIONAL
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt NOVEMBER 2013 • WEEK FOUR
Acoalition of Caribbean private sector organisa-
tions has been launched here with a multi-year
programme to develop, design, and implement
a policy and business advocacy campaign to
promote the enhancement of the United States
Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI-CBERA) programme with an
expansion into the services sector.
The Services of the Caribbean (SOCA) as the new organisation
is an initiatuive being led by the T&T Coalition of Services
Industries (TTCSI) and the American Chamber of Commerce
The SOCA said that it would focus on advancing new trade
and investment opportunities between the United states and
the Caribbean Community (Caricom) services sectors and
"SOCA membership will be open to US and Caricom business
and organizations committed to advancing greater services
trade and investment between these markets", said SOCA co-
chair, Nirad Tewarie, the TTCSI chief executive officer.
"While the CBI regime is focused solely on goods, para-
doxically, Caricom countries have much greater potential for
trade in the services yet the CBI does not cover services. The
economies of many CBERA countries have become more ori-
ented to international trade in services, rendering CBERA trade
preferences for exports of goods less relevant to their economic
future," Tewarie said.
He said the 20th Report on CEBRA also highlighted that
CBERA related investment has been low for the production
and export of CBERA-eligible goods and that investment has
focused as much, or more, on services than on exporting
"The purpose of the SOCA initiative and the call for the
inclusion of services in the CBI regime is therefore premised
on the strategic development goals of the region, and the
realities of the Caribbean economies."
The SOCA launch was held during the Caribbean-Central
American Action s 37th Annual Conference on the Caribbean
and Central America and according to Becky Stockhausen,
executive director of AmCham Jamaica, "this collaboration
between these business organisations in support of Caribbean
economic development and growth is a clear sign of the impor-
tance of this initiative for the business sector of our region
which is already predominantly services-centered".
Stockhausen made reference to her organisation s involvement
in lobbying efforts for the original CBI legislation and success
in achieving the passage of legislation by the US Congress to
support a crime reduction initiative led by the AmCham
Jamaica to reduce crime.
"I mention this story to emphasise that sometimes what
may seem to be impossible can be accomplished, and that
The American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica is excited
and inspired to work with our colleagues at TTCSI, AMCHAM
T&T, Manchester Trade, and others who will join our coalition
to achieve another lofty goal--one through which we can
assist our companies to grow and prosper, to attract new local
and foreign investments," she said.
Stephen Lande, president of the US-based business advisory
firm, Manchester Trade Ltd Inc, said with the region s economies
already more than 70 per cent concentrated in the services
sector, "it is a necessity of trade and business policy to upgrade
and expand the original CBI which was centered on goods
and make the CBI more relevant to the services reality of US-
Nicholas Galt, president of the Association of American
Chambers of Commerce of Latin America, said the new
initiative was long overdue and would help companies expand
into the United States.
"Although I export to more than 20 countries, I would like
to do more business in the US and I am confident that this
initiative can help. I want to therefore endorse this and offer
the full support of the AACCLA", he added. (Caribbean360)
The House of Representatives in Jamaica
on November 19 passed the Omnibus leg-
islation, which seeks to establish a transparent
and coherent regime to govern all tax incen-
The bills passed are the Fiscal Incentives
(Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, and the
Income Tax Relief (Large Scale Projects and
Pioneer Industries) Act 2013.
The Fiscal Incentives (Miscellaneous Pro-
visions) Act 2013 sets out the reforms to be
carried out to corporate tax, including the
introduction of an Employment Tax Credit
(ETC), changes to the capital allowance
regime, and revision of provisions governing
the utilisation of tax losses.
The bill also deals with "grandfathering"
and transitional arrangements relating to
change from the old to the new incentives
In terms of the Income Tax Relief (Large-
scale Projects and Pioneer Industries) Act,
it sets out provision for the designation of
large scale projects and pioneer industries
that would qualify for tax credit under the
Income Tax Act.
Other elements of the framework for the
new Omnibus Incentive Regime namely the
(Customs Tariff (Revision) (Amendment)
Resolution 2013 and Stamp Duty (Amend-
ments of Schedule) Order 2013, were
In his remarks, Minister of Finance and
Planning, Dr Peter Phillips, noted that the
Omnibus legislation represents the most far
reaching set of revisions of Jamaica s tax
incentive systems that have been undertaken
"The principal objective behind this current
tax incentive reform package is the view that
a comprehensive reform of Jamaica s many
tax incentive regimes requires implementation
of a more accessible, broad based competitive
tax regime, which can act both as a catalyst
for investment and economic growth and
which applies across all economic sectors,"
Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Holness,
said the series of legislation are generally
supported by the Opposition.
"The legislation seeks to simplify, correct
distortions and level the playing field for the
economy, as it relates to the economy," he
"The one that I particularly like, and I
think will help as an incentive for new invest-
ment, is the new system of employment tax
credit. I think that is something that will
help to spur economic growth," Holness
The passage of the legislations meet an
important structural benchmark agreed with
the International Monetary Fund. The bills
will now be sent to the Senate for its approval.
(Jamaica Information Service)
ST JOHN S, Antigua -- Antigua and Barbuda
on November 20 described as "disappointing"
the latest round of talks with representatives
from the Office of the United States Trade
Representatives (USTR) in a bid to resolve
their long standing internet gaming dispute.
"There is no escaping the fact that this was
a disappointing meeting, and that the USTR
proposals fell far short of what is required to
settle this matter," said Ambassador Colin
Murdoch, who headed the local delegation
to the talks in Washington.
"In failing to address key proposals that
we have made, the USTR has put US intel-
lectual property rights holders at risk," he
Antigua and Barbuda has criticised the
United States since 1998 of breaching its com-
mitments to members of the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) under the General Agree-
ment on Trade in Services (GATS) by enacting
laws that prevented foreign-based operators
from offering gambling and betting services
to its citizens.
In 2005, the WTO ruled that Washington
had violated international trade agreements
by prohibiting operation of offshore Internet
gambling sites. Antigua claimed that it lost
US$3.4 billion a year due to the US action,
but the WTO awarded the island US$21 mil-
But in its final ruling, the Geneva-based
WTO has allowed Antigua and Barbuda to
suspend certain concessions and obligations
it has under international law to the United
States in respect of intellectual property rights.
Murdoch further noted that even if all pos-
sible elements in the US proposal, Washing-
ton s first offer of settlement over the decade-
long span of the dispute, were aggregated,
the value of the offer would be considerably
less than the US$21 million in annual damages
awarded by a WTO panel back in 2007.
"What is really needed is something tailored
specifically to the needs of Antigua and Bar-
buda which addresses the economic damage
done by the failure of the United States to
comply with its obligations under the WTO
agreements," he added.
The Baldwin Spencer administration has
appointed a WTO Gaming Negotiation Team
chaired by Attorney General Justin Simon
QC, and including Murdoch, who is the Per-
manent Secretary in the Department of Trade,
Industry and Commerce.
The committee has the specific objective
of designing and implementing an instrument
for exercising measures that will act on the
authorisation for intellectual property right
suspensions against US companies authorised
by the WTO DSB.
A government statement said that it remains
open to further discussions with the United
States over a resolution of the dispute.
But Murdoch said "barring a considerable
move by the US to the middle in its negotiating
posture "he is not optimistic that a solution
would be reached "in the near term".
passes Omnibus Bills
Antigua and Barbuda on Internetgaming talks with US:
Caribbean private sector initiative aims
to improve US-Caribbean trade
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