Jamaica retaliates over dispute with Dominican Republic

KINGSTON, Jamaica: The government has carried out its threat to take strong action after authorities in the Dominican Republic ignored a 48-hour ultimatum to settle a row over a shipment of supplies from Caribbean Cement Company Limited (CCCL).

In a retaliatory move, Karl Samuda, the Minister of Industry, has signed an order which will require all importers of cement to Jamaica to first obtain a licence.

The order, which takes effect immediately, will make it more difficult for persons to bring in cement from the Dominican Republic, which is a key supplier of the building material to Jamaica.

On Monday evening, Samuda defended the move by his ministry and said it is aimed at leveling the playing field in the cement market.

In reference to attempts by the authorities in the Dominican Republic to block the sale of Caribbean Cement, Samuda declared that the government would retaliate.

“We are a small nation but we have to ensure that not withstanding the size of any country with (which) we trade, that the playing field is level and that they respect and honour the principles that ought to guide international trade.

“Any attempt to impose non tariff barriers on our products that pass all the required tests for entry into a foreign market will be resisted strenuously,” said Samuda.

Since the shipment of Carib Cement arrived in the Dominican Republic in late April, no permission has been granted for it to be unloaded.

This has resulted in Caribbean Cement Company incurring losses totaling more than J$4 million.

At an emergency press briefing on Friday, Samuda demanded that the authorities in the Spanish speaking country release the shipment by Monday afternoon or face the consequences.

Caribbean Cement has expressed support for the government’s decision.

“We are supportive of any action by the government which seeks to ensure a level playing to field and to make sure that we’re all exporting under the same conditions,” said Anthony Hayes, CCCL General Manager.

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