Importers of cement to Jamaica could be hit with a 15-20 per cent quota on imports this year if the Ministry of Commerce decides there is an imminent threat to the local cement industry.
This follows the ruling of the Anti-Dumping Commission, which conceded that cement was being dumped in Jamaica, but ruled that the dumping has not caused any "material injury" to the local industry which is headed by Carib Cement Company Limited (CCC).
However, Commerce minister Karl Samuda, who met with the three main local importers, said the ruling of the Commission had in effect "opened the door for the possibility of increased import of cement into the country."
He said this could pose a genuine threat to the cement company in terms of the volume of cement being imported into Jamaica.
"As the minister of industry, investment and commerce I made it clear to the three of them that on my watch I would never preside over the severe damage to the cement company, as a result of persons within the trading community taking advantage of this ruling of the Anti-Dumping commission enabling them to import at prices that would allow them to pay the tax, but still be able to compete with the Carib Cement Company," Samuda said.
He said the importers have been ’co-operative’ and ’very supportive’ of the decision and the need for fair competition. "We set out to ensure that competition remained alive," Samuda said. "We will never return to that state where one single supplier of cement holds the country at ransom."
"We have introduced a 15-20 per cent importation of cement from external sources for extra-regional areas." Samuda added. "We have seen where there has been a great improvement in the service and there has been a stability in the price. In fact a reduction in price. We want to keep it that way, but at the same time we want to ensure that there is no threat to our manufacturing of cement in Jamaica."