CCJ upholds COTED decision on cement classification
…but urges actions to help protect regional cement manufacturers
(Guyana Chronicle) THE Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on Tuesday delivered a judgment which upholds the classification decision of the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (‘COTED’) on cement, known as Rock Hard Cement, imported and/or distributed within CARICOM by Rock Hard Distribution Limited, Mootilal Ramhit and Sons Contracting Limited, and Rock Hard Cement Limited.
These proceedings in the CCJ’s Original Jurisdiction mark the finale of complex litigation which has resulted in five separate judgments and numerous orders thus far, the CCJ said in a release. Tuesday’s judgment settled the dispute as to whether Rock Hard Cement ought to be classified as ‘Building cement (grey)’ and be charged a CARICOM tax of 15 per cent when imported into the Region, or as ‘Other hydraulic cement’ in which case a levy of zero to five per cent would be payable. Earlier this year, COTED decided that Rock Hard Cement was to be classified as ‘Other hydraulic cement’ in line with the advice received from the World Customs Organisation’s (‘WCO’) Harmonised System (‘HS’) Committee.
The State of Trinidad and Tobago, Trinidad Cement Limited (‘TCL’) and Arawak Cement Company Limited argued that COTED’s decision-making process was procedurally flawed and that COTED’s reliance on the WCO’s advice went against the economic objectives of the CARICOM tax. On this basis they contended that Rock Hard Cement should be classified as ‘Building cement (grey)’ and be subjected to the 15 per cent tax as Rock Hard Cement was in direct competition with TCL’s regionally-produced ‘Building cement (grey)’.
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