Cement distributors ARC Systems have thrown their support behind Commerce Minister Karl Samuda’s decision to require a licence to import cement into the island despite the fact that it imports all its cement from the Dominican Republic (DR).
ARC is the largest importer of cement in Jamaica and imports all its cement from the DR, the country currently involved in a stand-off with the Jamaican government over what Samuda characterised as a "classic case of the application of non-tariff barriers" against local cement manufacturer Carib Cement Company.
"In principle, we support the government’s position to act against any move that threatens free competition and free trade," said Deanall Barnes, VP marketing and international business at ARC, which currently controls the second most market share in the local cement industry, behind Carib Cement.
"Whatever efforts that the government use to put in place structures that ensure free trade and competition we have no issues with it," Barnes added.
ARC imports the Portland Grey cement from Cemex Dominicana. Barnes said last Monday that his company cleared 3500t of the cement at local ports which came in on the weekend. However, up to Thursday, the shipment of 2500t of cement, which Carib Cement sent to the DR in April, had not yet been released from the ports in that country. Carib Cement said the company has continued to incur additional demurrage charges while the shipment idles at the port.