CARICOM co-operation needed in rum fight with US

CARICOMFlagBRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – Barbados Trade, Industry and Commerce Minister, Donville Inniss, has compared the current trade issue with the United States over rum to the banana struggle of the 90s, and criticised regional leaders for lack of support in the effort.

Millions of dollars and thousands of jobs have been put at stake for Caribbean Community (CARICOM) workers and rum producers as the US continues to place massive subsidies on rum made in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands that enter the United States market with a competitive edge over the product from the rest of the Caribbean.

But Inniss said on television on Monday that his government’s efforts at forming a united CARICM front to lobby for changes to the unfair trade condition has not yielded responses from other regional leaders.

“It it time that they face a bit of realty. It is time that prime ministers in the region really get out of their lofty offices, get out on the streets and understand the importance of solidarity on key matters,” Inniss said.

“We are facing it with the banana issue, today we are facing it with the rum issue. I as a politician in this region am totally embarrassed with the lack of interest on the part of the region,” he added. “Stop the dress-up in expensive suits and the fancy foods and face realities.”

Caribbean countries have in the past reiterated the need for an amicable solution to the rum dispute with the United States. The regional countries say they are determined to seek a satisfactory solution to the matter of trade-distorting subsidies being granted to the USVI and Puerto Rico rum producers that threaten the long-term viability of the rum industry in the Caribbean.

In December 2012, the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) said the region was having ‘serious concerns’ regarding the competitiveness of Caribbean rum in the United States.

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