CCJ to deliver decision in Belize’s lawsuit against TT

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THE Caribbean Court of Justice will on Tuesday, deliver a decision in a complaint brought against Trinidad and Tobago by Belize over an alleged failure to apply the common external tariff (CET) tax on brown sugar imported from outside the region from November 2018 to June 2020.

Belize filed a lawsuit against TT claiming the Caricom state breached the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas by failing to apply the CET of 40 per cent on imports of brown sugar from sources outside the region.

The CET is a single tariff rate agreed to by all members of Caricom on imports of a product from outside the Caribbean Community. Goods imported from third countries are subject to the duties listed in the CET, but goods imported from Caricom countries, certified to be of Caricom origin, do not generally attract these import duties. These Caricom origin goods enjoy duty-free status.

A similar complaint against St Kitts and Nevis was settled by the parties before the matter was heard at the CCJ.

The Central American country has alleged that because of the treaty violation, Belize Sugar Industries Ltd (BSI) and Santander Sugar were losing sales to these countries.

It was also alleged that the Caricom secretariat had failed to ensure TT imposed the CET.

Belize is seeking a ruling from the CCJ that requires the full application of the 40 per cent CET on brown sugar imported from non-Caricom sources.

At the trial, Belize contended its evidence demonstrates that between November 2018 to June 2020 brown sugar which was produced outside the Caribbean region, entered the market of TT without the 40 per cent CET being imposed.

Trinidad and Tobago denied it has permitted the importation of extra-regional brown sugar from any extra-regional territory without the imposition of the 40 per cent CET.

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