Antigua and Barbuda officials are anticipating lower prices for cement after the Colombian cement giant, Cementos Argos, said it was prepared to battle the regional cement manufacturer, Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL), for control of the market here.
Both companies have responded to a government announcement that Antigua had secured permission from the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) to source cement from other external sources, thereby opening the way for competition.
At a recent meeting in Barbados, COTED, the second highest decision-making body in CARICOM, granted a one-year suspension on the application of the Common External Tariff (CET) on cement, clearing the way for Antigua and Barbuda to import 60,000 tonnes of cement from October 9 to October 28, 2010.
This is subject, however, to the confirmation by Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago of their inability to supply the commodity.
Antigua’s trade, ambassador Clarence Henry, said that TCL has already entered the Antigua and Barbuda market, but that a representative from Argos visited his office recently and expressed his company’s determination to fight the Trinidad-based company.
"We must say that the TCL company has re-entered the Antigua market and they now have a new agent, the Antigua Masonry Products, and the prices which are being offered by TCL are extremely good," Henry said.
"On the other hand, Argos, a company which has been in the cement-producing business for a number of years, with operations out of Colombia, recently purchased the terminal, and through their agent, they have vowed to fight to maintain the Antigua and Barbuda market share."