Trinidad and Tobago has recieved approval on its proposed suspension of common external tariff (CET) on almond milk and lithium ion batteries, which are used in renewable energy systems.
Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon led TT’s delegation comprised of senior officials of the ministry to the 56th meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) between June 1-2 in Georgetown, Guyana.
The ministry, in a release on Friday, said the suspension of the CET on almond milk is intended to increase the rate of duty applied by TT on imports of the product to encourage growth and sustainability of the local industry. The suspension of the CET on lithium ion batteries for renewable energy systems, will reduce the cost of the item and provide an incentive to installing renewable energy systems.
It said TT’s participation was critical to ensuring national interests are reflected in regional policies and initiatives. It said participation at the ministerial level also exhibited the government’s commitment to the development of Caricom and the regional integration movement.
The regional trade ministers also deliberated on a number of other matters pertaining to the promotion of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME), trade in goods, non-compliance with provisions of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, external economic and trade relations and regional standards. Among these issues was the Mergers and Acquisitions Policy which seeks to prevent market dominance by firms in the CSME and ensure that consumers are not negatively impacted by monopolistic prices.
Also included in the deliberations were the product specific Rules of Origin (ROO) for liquid soaps, liquid detergents and iron and steel products which would classify the products as being of Caricom origin, and allow manufacturers to export qualifying products throughout Caricom under preferential and duty free treatment.
ROOs are used to determine if products are eligible for duty-free or reduced duties under the Free Trade Agreement rules.
Other ministries and agencies which attended the meeting virtually included the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Ministry of Planning and Development, exporTT, Intellectual Property Office, TT Bureau of Standards and the Customs and Excise Division as well as private sector organisations.
The release said the meeting also looked at developments at the World Trade Organisation and activities being pursued in preparation for upcoming bilateral engagements with Colombia and the US.
COTED is a body within Caricom responsible for promoting trade in goods and services and sustainable regional economic development.