Barbados complains about OECS beer imports
June 21, 2013

Barbados complains about OECS beer imports

The Barbados government intends to raise with CARICOM queries about products produced by Multinational Corporations (MNCs) in the OECS benefiting from lower duties when those products enter Barbados.{{more}}

This was highlighted by Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development in Barbados Donville Inniss in an interview published in the Barbados Advocate on Monday.

According to the Advocate, Inniss singled out the beer industry, stating that some products are entering Barbados and benefiting from lower duties, because of a CARICOM arrangement which gives special treatment to the OECS.

Member states of the OECS are categorised as Less Developed Countries (LDCs), whereas Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, are classified as More Developed Countries (MDCs).

Inniss said the matter will be raised with COTED, which is the Council for Trade and Economic Development, which handles trade disputes among Caribbean Community states.

According to the Minister, the companies manufacturing those beverages have pockets that are deeper than the main beverage company in Barbados.

“We are currently gathering our information here in Barbados to see how best we can address this,” the Minister said.

He explained, therefore, that this issue of MDCs and LDCs has to be looked at “where some goods coming from the MDCs like Barbados are attracting a higher tariff rate in the LDCs, whereas it is not the same with goods coming from the LDCs into Barbados.

“What troubles me is unfair competition… and I intend to raise it at my first COTED meeting.”

Said Inniss: “Whilst for example, you may say a product manufactured in Barbados should attract a 70 per cent rate of duty going into a Caribbean island, and a similar product from another Caribbean island coming into Barbados attracts a duty of 20 per cent, you look behind it and see that the ownership of that Eastern Caribbean country is actually a MNC with deep pockets and not that it is owned by OECS concerns, then that is a reason for concern.”

The St Vincent Brewery Ltd began exporting beer to Barbados in September 2012, and, according to figures provided by the Statistical Department, by the end of 2012, had exported products valued at $1,027,376. For the first quarter of this year, exports of that commodity to Barbados had a value of $931,860.

St Vincent Brewery Ltd is owned by Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana (78 per cent) and Vincentian investors (22 per cent). Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana (CND) is the primary beer producer in the Dominican Republic. CND is owned by AmBev and Grupo Leon Jimenes.