CARICOM Council Meeting Update

Basseterre, St.Kitts – Nevis
March 27, 2008 (CUOPM)

The St. Kitts and Nevis Cabinet on Wednesday received an update from Minister responsible for Trade, Dr. Hon Timothy Harris, on the discussions conducted at the most recent meeting of the CARICOM Council on Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in the Bahamas on March 7th and 8th.

Minister Harris reported that COTED approved the suspension of the CET (Common External Tariff) on a set of commodities which have a significant impact on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and are not significantly produced in the CARICOM region or have a close substitute in the region.

According to the post Cabinet Statement, Minister Harris emphasised that the cost of living is a global problem resulting from the increase in the price of fuel, hence manufacturing and transport costs, and the increased demand for traditional food crops to be diverted into the production of alternative fuels, and concluded that the CET is the only instrument available for intervention at the regional level to address the issue of the rising cost of living.

“In one category of commodities that includes cheddar cheese, oils, raisin bran/corn flakes and dried breakfast cereals, baby formula and baking powder, the CET would be completely suspended for the most part for two years ending March 2010. In a second category, the suspension of the CET was granted for six months on juices for infant use; and in a third category which consists of milk, chicken, beef, lamb, onions, oatmeal, beans and potatoes, the CET can be indefinitely suspended,” said the statement.

Cabinet said that although COTED did approve the suspension of these commodities, respective states must notify CARICOM by April 4 of the items on which they would wish to join other Member States in suspending the CET on items agreed by the COTED.

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