The St Lucia government says it will implement a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) “wide initiative” aimed at enabling the growth and development of the lesser developed countries (LDC) within the 15-member regional grouping.
The Ministry of Commerce, International Trade, Investment, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs said the island would be implementing Article 164 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) which governs the regional integration movement from January 1 next year.
It said that Article 164 also governs the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) which allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour, and services across the region.
According to the RTC, Article 164 is a regime that seeks to promote industrial development among the LDCs of CARICOM. Under this regime, which was first introduced by a decision of the Council for Trade and Economic Development in 2006, the LDCs “may, if necessary, as a temporary measure, suspend community-origin treatment on imports of a specified list of goods, imported from the more developed countries of CARICOM and from third countries”.
“It should be noted, however, that goods of community origin sourced from the LDCs continue to attract a duty of zero per cent,” the ministry said in a statement.
It said that this new (and third) edition of the Article 164 regime covers 14 product groups across 39 tariff lines and provides tariff protection to most of the products on the list for a period of 10 years and a period of five years for two products, namely curry powder and pasta.
The remaining products include other wheat or meslin flour; aerated waters and beverages; malt; beer; stout; prepared complete animal feed; oxygen and carbon dioxide; acetylene; candles of paraffin wax; solar water heaters for domestic use; paint and varnishes, including enamels and lacquers based on synthetic polymers or chemically modified natural polymers, dispersed or dissolved in an aqueous medium; and furniture.
“The objective of the regime is to increase the participation of LDCs in intra-regional trade, and in so doing, increase the level of equity in the distribution of the benefits from the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, enhancing the competitiveness of the products covered under the Article 164 Regime.
“St Lucia remains committed to improving its productive capacity in order to increase its intra- and extra-regional trade in goods and is, therefore, committed to implementing the full list of the new edition of the extended Article 164 regime. However, St Lucia will be reserving on its implementation of furniture until further notice,” the statement added.
The statement said that the full list of Article 164 products and corresponding tariff rates would be published in the official gazette before year end.