Judge Rules to Maintain 60 Percent Tariff in Barbados

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) dismissed Rock Hard Cement’s application for the removal of an injunction that ordered Barbados to “restore and enforce” a 60 percent import duty on hydraulic cements imported from outside the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

On May 11, 2018, Trinidad Cement Ltd. (TCL) and its Barbados subsidiary Arawak Cement Co. Ltd. filed an application for special leave to commence proceedings against Barbados and Rock Hard Cement, over the government reducing the Common External Tariff (CET) on hydraulic cements bought from outside of CARICOM. The companies contested that the country’s applied import tariff on hydraulic cement being lowered to 5 percent in 2015 caused distorted competition and promoted unfair trade practices within the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).

In July 2018, CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders issued an interim measure ordering Barbados to “restore and enforce” the 60 percent import duty. Rock Hard Cement was seeking to have that interim order discharged – a move that TCL and Arawak Cement, the claimants, was fighting.

In an affidavit in support of the application to have the measure discharged, Rock Hard Cement argued that its business was established and its business model and prices derived on the basis of a 5 percent rate of duty. It said it was “unable to sustain imports at a rate of 60 percent, and if the order continues then Rock Hard and its related companies will have to consider ceasing business, which will result in losses such as job cuts.”

But in its ruling on the matter, the CCJ concluded: “The claimants’ resistance to the application is well founded. There is no change of circumstances or good and sufficient reason to vary or cancel this court’s order for interim measures.”

However, a determination on exactly what classification of hydraulic cement Rock Hard Cement is importing for its local operations is still pending.

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